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Three North-east CMs at ABVP’s campus event in JNU ahead of students union polls

ABVP says not related to election, others call it display of power.

education Updated: Aug 30, 2018 09:33 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
ABVP,JNU,SU
Manipur CM N Biren Singh tweeted this photo of him addressing students at JNU. Also seen are Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal (second from left) and Arunachal CM Pema Khandu (second from right). (Photo credit: Twitter / @NBirenSingh)

The battle lines have been drawn for this year’s Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union (JNUSU) elections with chief ministers (CMs) of three North-east states – Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh—attending an event organised by the RSS-affliated Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) at a hostel mess late on Tuesday night.

The CMs reached Koyna hostel around 10:30pm amid protests by a large group of North-east students demanding a dialogue with them.

Though the ABVP said the visit was not associated with the JNUSU polls scheduled on September 14, other students’ organisations called it a “blatant display of power”.

“The event was a part of our discussions around Ishan Uday (the rise of North-east). We wanted JNU students to know about these states which have been neglected by the previous Congress government,” Saurabh Sharma, member of ABVP’s central working committee, said.

Addressing a gathering of around 200 students, the CMs highlighted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s role in the development of their states. “Unlike the Congress government, the BJP actually delivers what it promised. The Narendra Modi government has changed the face of all North-east states,” Manipur CM N Biren Singh said.

Arunachal Pradesh CM Pema Khandu talked about the Modi government’s efforts in making his state “corruption-free”. “There was so much corruption in Arunachal Pradesh before 2014. The Modi government has cleaned up the system and today we are moving forward towards development and prosperity,” he said.

When Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal started his address, a group of students raised slogans against the implementation of the ‘citizens’ amendment bill’. Replying, he said, “The National Registrar of Citizens (NRC) is very important as its aim is to differentiate between legal and illegal citizens of the country. It’s a matter of national security and nothing can be more important than that.”

The CMs’ visit drew criticism from other political groups at the campus. “The visit of three elected CMs at a mess event speaks volumes. It clearly shows the ABVP cannot even win a campus election without the intervention of its parent party,” said AISA president Sucheta De.

ABVP members said more political figures are likely to attend such events ahead of polls. “We are planning to organise a talk on the SC, ST and OBC forum soon and will invite more big names. This election is very important in view of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” a member said.

Other student groups had also invited leaders of their parent parties in the last few days. The left-backed Students Federation of India had invited Communist Party of India (CPM) general secretary Sitaram Yechury last week. Congress leader P Chidambaram also visited the campus on Tuesday to attend an event organised by the party’s student wing, the Nation Student’s Union of India (NSUI).

However, the NSUI’s focus is the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) polls, where it has a stronghold. “Winning DUSU polls this year is important as it will help create a positive image among youth. They are considered “elections of prestige” in the party,” an NSUI member said.

Meanwhile, students from North-east at JNU alleged they were “abused” by ABVP members during the event.

The ABVP denied the charges, calling it political instigation by the opposition Left groups.

First Published: Aug 30, 2018 01:25 IST