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“We’ll Arrange Transport, You Just Need To Vote For Us”: When ABVP Reached My House

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With elections round the corner, both for the student unions of Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, the campaigning is in full swing. Loud agendas, sore throats and the prevalent black and white of the parchas decorating the floors of the universities. As an ex-Delhi University student and as a current Jawaharlal Nehru University student I have come a long way in my political understanding.

As a DUSU voting candidate, the political game was simplistic with ABVP at the saffron spectrum and NSUI at the blue end of it. We wouldn’t know anything about Left apart of some bits and pieces of Marx we read about in OP Gauba. Only political campaigning we would come across around ourselves would be that of daaru and movie tickets both by NSUI and ABVP.

The post-graduate course at JNU deconstructed how I understood voting in Delhi University and constructed how I began to comprehend voting as an essential political right at JNU. While many of us draw poignant criticisms of Left being divided in JNU and not taking into account the voices of the marginalised, the respite was that there is no right relevance or presence in the campus. The cliche remains that JNU is not an island and has its sets of hypocrisies attached to different political lineages.

As a JNUiite, or even as a political scientist, our minds are trained to believe and swear by Article 19, freedom of speech and expression. However, when it comes to taking the limits of the so-called political-cum-misogynist, it not only becomes intricate but becomes all the more checking the intolerance level.

Off late, particularly the day scholar community of JNU is not solely receiving messages to attend Mashal Juloos, but receiving calls (read snooping) on their feedback of ‘Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Sangathan’. These snooping attempts are not new to the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Two days ago when they gave me a call to know my opinion on their party, the ABVP lady began her conversation by saying ‘Modiji is doing great work’, to which I had tonnes of arguments to present, however, decided not to. She went to the extent of telling me that the student-wing is autonomous from the national party despite labelling Modiji and his great invisible work. She referred to February 9 as a landmark incident in her conversation to gauge a change in my political inclinations and believed that ‘Left’ is the reason why I was indifferent to Modiji’s laborious hard work for Bharat. The crucial feedback I could offer her was that their party is through and through misogynist crap. She ended the call by saying that she would convey my feedback to the senior cadre of the party.

The incident is startling. Firstly, because I had no idea how would they got my private number. I called back to know the same, to which she replied, “We got numbers from JNU administration, don’t worry, I am also a lady I will not pass it around.”

The conversation in all its essence proved to me that February 9 is being utilised as a grounding not just for JNUSU elections but 2019 general elections as well. In politics, premonitions are mostly right. As I put up in a joint family set-up, one of my relatives was called by the President of the Residents Welfare Association. He told my relative that this is a familial matter, and obviously, women don’t have any political rights on their own and even my fundamental rights flow from the patriarch. As expected in a chauvinist set up, my relative called up my father and my father took me to this RWA president in an hour.

The President is a three toothed man (literally speaking) who said, “I might sound bitter to you, but students at the University have rambled in a wrong direction. I got to know that this girl is in the university, so I thought this is my family, my daughter and my izzat (honour) why not directly request to you for one vote?”

Furthermore, the president seemed really concerned about safety and security, so he told me, “If you need a car, and company, we will come with you. Some male member will come with you; we will arrange the transport you just need to vote for us.”

On going back to the campus, many day scholars complained of the same behaviour by the ABVP and the ‘car-pooling’ offers they have been receiving. The institutionalisation of the snooping campaign was stark and wide.

After the family drama had ended, I have never been so grateful to my father, who then told me, “You just nod in agreement, no point in arguing with them, vote for whoever you want to.”

We are indeed living in the carceral saffron times.

Image for representation only. Source: Qamar Sibtain/India Today Group/Getty Images
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