Independent candidate Farooque Alam hopes to rewrite history in JNU polls
The son of a farmer and housewife from Bihar, and the younger brother of a labourer and an unemployed madrasa graduate, Alam was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was as young as 5-6 years old.delhi Updated: Sep 08, 2017 00:00 IST
An independent candidate has not won a seat at Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Student Union elections in recent memory. But that has not deterred MD Farooque Alam from hoping to rewrite history in Friday’s polls.
One of the more popular speakers at the presidential debate on Wednesday night -- who drew laughs and cheers from both sides of the political spectrum -- Alam is independently contesting the top post.
The son of a farmer and housewife from Bihar, and the younger brother of a labourer and an unemployed madrasa graduate, Alam was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was as young as 5-6 years old.
“My parents treated me for as long as they could. But they could not afford to do much,” he said.
Alam first came to JNU in 2013 to pursue his undergraduate degree in Russian and is now doing his masters in the language. He said he worked between 2016 and 2017 with Google as a translator.
“When I first came to campus, I had a curiosity to learn what student politics is, what are elections, who is contesting, etc. Then I slowly started getting involved in activism on campus. I thought I had heard enough, and it was now time to speak,” he says.
Alam was once a member of the All India Students Association but left. “A major reason for this was that I felt they were too concerned with what is happening outside campus and never addressed campus issues or students’ problems. They were concentrating on Modi and his politics,” says Alam.
But with independent candidates almost never faring well at the polls in JNU, his opponents do not take him as serious competition.
“You see how everybody is cheering for him despite political differences? That shows that nobody is really worried about him as competition,” said a left-leaning student on campus, who has held JNUSU office.
Saket Bahuguna, ABVP’s spokesperson, said JNU was peculiar space. “Anyone has a chance at winning in JNU because the voters are sensitive to issues. But party affiliations are also strong and only those affiliated with political parties have won in the past,” he said.
AISA-SFI alliance’s candidate Mohit Pandey, and the current JNUSU president, said he was happy that Alam was contesting. “He is contesting and that is good. Everybody should be given a chance. The rest we will only know after the elections,” he said.