Delhi Assembly Election 2020: Six former Delhi University presidents in the fray
Delhi University has churned out quite a few student leaders who made a name in politics — Arun Jaitley, Vijay Goel, Ajay Maken, Vijay Jolly, Nupur Sharma and Alka Lamba to name a few.Updated: Jan 24, 2020 18:48 IST
Six former Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) presidents are in fray for the February 8 Delhi assembly elections.
The Congress has fielded Alka Lamba, Rocky Tuseed and Neetu Verma Soin and the BJP has given tickets to Anil Jha, Rekha Gupta and Ashish Sood, all former DUSU presidents.
The candidates were unanimous in their feeling that the student union elections were a “training camp” for mainstream politics and gave them their “ticket to fame”.
Tuseed, 25, the youngest candidate this time, said the DUSU elections had given him recognition across the city. He was elected president of the DU students’ union in the academic session 2017-18, contesting for the Congress-affiliated National Students’ Union of India (NSUI).
“Delhi University colleges and departments are spread across the city. When you contest for the top post of the university’s students’ union and win it, people start to recognize you. It was like a ticket to fame for me,” he said.
The Congress’ candidate from Rajendra Nagar, Tuseed has a group of 500-odd present and former DU students working for his campaign. “DUSU leaders do not cut off from the campus after their education. Campus politics gives you that platform to connect people and understand their issues,” he said.
Born and brought up in central Delhi’s Dasghara village, Tusheed had done BA (programme) from Shivaji College and MA in Buddhist Studies from DU. His tenure as DUSU president was marred by a controversy when he was disqualified by the university election committee in September 2017 for not disclosing a pending inquiry against him in his nomination paper. He was reinstated by the Delhi High Court as DUSU president in August 2018.
Jha, 46, BJP’s Kirari candidate, was DUSU president in 1997-1998, contesting from the RSS-affiliated ABVP. “DUSU was like a training camp for mainstream politics. It made me understand how to do politics with understanding of administrative issues. I had contested and won the DUSU polls five times and it completely transformed my political understanding,” he said. Jha got his BA Pass degree from Satyawati College and completed Masters in Library Science from DU’s Arts Faculty.
Lamba, 44, who is seeking a re-election from Chandni Chowk for the Congress, was DUSU president at the age of 19 in 1995-96 as a NSUI candidate. “Imagine the confidence of a 19-year-old after winning the students’ union election of university as big as DU. It was like the first step towards mainstream politics for me. The DUSU politics nurtured me and trained me. I probably would not have come this far in politics if DUSU did not happen,” she said.
Lamba was in news when she joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in 2014 after spending 20 years with the Congress. She was elected as an MLA from Chandni Chowk on an AAP ticket in 2015. She has a BSc degree in Chemistry from DU’s Dyal Singh College. She had later joined Bundelkhand University in Uttar Pradesh.
Her successor to the DUSU top post, Rekha Gupta, said people in her constituency still know her as a “DU leader”. “Campus politics was different at our time. Before the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations that came into effect (prior to 2012), candidates had an option of contesting campus politics multiple times. It would give enough experience and recognition to student leaders at that time,” said Gupta, who had contested the DUSU polls twice. She is now the BJP’s candidate from Shalimar Bagh.
Gupta, 45, was a commerce student at Daulat Ram College. She later became a municipal councillor from Uttari Pitampura in 2007.
Similarly, Congress’ candidate from Malviya Nagar, Neetu Verma Soin, had won the DUSU polls three times between 1999 and 2002. “A girl from a middle-class family managed to join the mainstream politics because of DUSU politics. Because of my win in DUSU, I was given the councillor’s ticket by the Congress from civil lines. For six months in 2002, I served as the councillor and DUSU president both,” she said.
Verma, 41, a resident of Arjun Nagar, studied BA (pass) at DU’s Miranda House. She is at present the in-charge of the Mahila Congress in Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh.
BJP’s candidate from Janakpuri, Ashish Sood, who was DUSU president in 1988-89, said, “I learnt the importance of transparency in public system from DUSU politics. “I still pursue the same principals in my life,” said Sood, a father of three.
Sood, 53, got a commerce degree from Atma Ram Sanatan Dharam College. In Sood’s tenure, DUSU had led a big protest against the Bofors scam. He was later elected as a councillor from Janakpuri in 2012.
Delhi University has churned out quite a few student leaders who made a name in politics — Arun Jaitley, Vijay Goel, Ajay Maken, Vijay Jolly, Nupur Sharma and Alka Lamba to name a few.