STUDENT politics is often seen as a barometer for the general political temperature. Going by the last year’s record, the Congress needs to do a serious rethink on its strategy to attract young people to its fold. Statistics bear out that throughout the country, it is the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) which has been steadily gaining ground mostly at the cost of the Congress’ National Students Union of India (NSUI).
For example, in Kerala, where the Congress is expected to get back to power in the 2011 Assembly elections, and where the BJP has a very marginal presence, the ABVP managed to get its whole panel elected to 12 out of 76 colleges and fought 144 general seats. In Rajasthan, which is Congress ruled, the ABVP won in 105 out of 197 college and university elections it contested, in Vidarbha (Maharashtra) it won in 19 out of 35 colleges. In Madhya Pradesh, ABVP won 212. Not to forget, the Delhi University Students Union polls, which saw the ABVP storm back to power after years of being trounced by the NSUI. The organisation managed to get three out of the top four seats in the DUSU panel.
In itself, the winning and losing of student elections do not account for much, but in the year when the Congress had been reaching out to students and young people, and when it seemed that a generational shift would finally occur in the party, this trend requires some soul searching. While much attention has been focused on the internal elections in the Youth Congress nothing much has been said on NSUI.
The ABVP on its part is quick to proclaim it as a failure of the Congress to convince young people that it wants a genuine engagement with their issues. “Our members work within campuses 365 days a year and that has been reflected in the results,” said former ABVP general secretary Shri Vishnudutt Sharma. (FOC)