Kingsway camp in North Delhi has a special place in the history of the city. In the wake of India attempting to make a tryst with destiny after independence, thousands of Hindus and Sikhs fled the newly created nation of Pakistan. Delhi single handedly took the burden of around half a million refugees. Kingsway Camp was the largest refugee camp for the Sikhs and Hindus in Delhi.
It’s a very interesting historical irony that the same Kingsway Camp is where the announcement of the victory of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), student wing of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) elections took place on September 10. ABVP bagged three of the four posts in the central panel of DUSU. Amit Tanwar, Priyanka Chhawri and Ankit Sangwan from ABVP were elected as President, Vice President and Secretary respectively. ABVP had won all four posts in the previous two elections held in 2014 and 2015. Improving on its previous performances, National Students Union of India (NSUI), student wing of the punctured Indian National Congress salvaged some grace as their candidate Mohit Garid was elected as the Joint Secretary.
The election results were announced at the Community Hall near North Campus, Delhi University. The entire stretch of road at the entry of the venue had been cordoned off by the Delhi Police. The victorious candidates were being carried on the shoulders of people and made their appearance to the impatient and overjoyed public who had gathered in hundreds. They were garlanded by ABVP volunteers and supporters. A victory march took place from the community hall till the Faculty of Arts, Delhi University (North Campus). Traffic rules took a backseat as the roads meant for everyday thoroughfare were hijacked. Medical emergency is the last thing on anyone’s mind when celebration of elections take place in this country, even if it involves students in a university. The heavy police presence seemed invisible. Election cards with the name and political party of the candidates were thrown up in celebrations all through the streets. Electoral celebrations cannot afford to be sensitive to low paid workers who are expected to keep roads clean.
All three of the elected candidates for almost the entire march of more than a kilometer were carried on the shoulders of supporters. People celebrating were largely men in their twenties. Women were much less in number, yet celebrating and chanting slogans with the same zeal. Even though the volunteers were predominantly men, nobody had any reservation in celebrating the victory of Priyanka Chhawri, the Vice- President and also the only woman elected in the panel.
Songs were blaring from loudspeakers. Dhols were beaten with a soul stirring aggression throughout, making an enchanting atmosphere. Everyone was dancing with joy as the victory march progressed. Chants of Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata Ki Jai were heard from time to time. Pushing was rough at times, yet one never felt threatened or intimidated. The sound and energy refused to die down as everyone reached inside the building of the Faculty of Arts, University of Delhi. The winning candidates, along with a few other volunteers made their way to the highly elevated plinth of a statue of Swami Vivekananda inside the building. Hindu nationalists take huge inspiration from Swami Vivekananda, the 19th century Bengali Hindu monk. Whether he would have approved or not is another debate altogether. One ABVP volunteer ensured that the organisation’s flag was flying above the statue of the Bengali monk. One volunteer from a bit far off was shouting that everyone had to take their shoes off before climbing the plinth. Even though it is unlikely that anyone heard him amidst the noise, almost everyone did take their shoes off as a mark of respect. One of them didn’t. This made the volunteer gape and put his hands over his head.
Chants kept on growing louder and louder as three of the elected candidates posed for photos and gave very short speeches thanking the voters and making a vow to give their best while in power. As soon as everyone got down, the hungry media pounced on them, asking for bytes. Even amidst the crowd and chaos, media personnel were not refused. As everyone was walking out, volunteers and supporters took the chance to take selfies with the people of the moment. The elected candidates happily obliged. Priyanka Chhawri saved the last picture for a very proud and happy father.
Slowly, crowds started dispersing and people started walking away. The crowd thinned, the noise died down and everything turned normal. Except, the election cards are still lying on the roads and someone will have to clean that up.