Elections are always a busy time in the college campuses of India. The fire to change, create, rule and make a difference among the candidates and parties has always been touching new heights and taking new forms.
On August 28, 2018, ABVP organized an event in JNU called “Ishan Uday: Bridging the Heart”. For the same, they managed to invite three Chief Ministers from the Northeastern states – Sarbananda Sonowal (Assam), Pema Khandu (Arunachal Pradesh) and N Biren Singh (Manipur); they were invited to have a talk with the students of JNU. All the ministers talked about the development and the benefits under the BJP government. However, this event was over shadowed by controversies.
On the same day, Northeast Students were silently protesting in the campus against the Citizenship Amendment Bill holding placards of “Roll Back Citizen Amendment Bill”. They wanted to raise an issue and question the decisions made by their state heads, in front of them itself.
The ‘Bridging the Heart’ event was part of JNU elections campaign by ABVP, who in turn, refused entry of the students who were part of the protest. While the ABVP is justifying the denial of entry with a reason like limitation of seats, the students who were part of the protest are not satisfied, and also feel ignored. It is also alleged by the students of JNU that the presence of the three CMs in the campus is an ABVP gimmick to show their power and connections. The students of Assam Circle JNU also believe that ABVP’s invitation to 3 Northeastern CMs was their way to “manipulate the student community in general and the Northeast in particular for the electoral benefits of ABVP-JNU.”
The accusations don’t just end here. While escorting the CMs to the venue of the talk, the ABVP chanted slogans like “Bangladeshi ghuspethiye murdabad” and “Indian Army Zindabad” when many students from Assam were holding placards for raising issues such as Assam floods, communalism, saffronisation and the citizenship bill. A student from Assam said in a report that it could have been a great opportunity to meet their CMs and talk about the issues but they were not allowed; other students also reported as to how ABVP tore their placards. AISA president also stated that the invitation to the three CMs also shows the kind of money and power display they are engaging in. ABVP, on the other hand, is clearly refusing all allegations.
While this was the picture on the outside of the event, the Manipur CM talked about how Indians should stay together.
The Chief Minister of Arunanchal Pradhesh, Mr. Khandu, talked about how Northeast was a neglected area and how an immense amount of development has taken place there now.
Mr. Sonowal spoke about JNU having one of the best campuses in the world and addressed the NRC issue by saying that the purpose of it is to give security to real Indians, and finish the issue of illegal immigrants.
Calling political leaders during election campaigns is a tradition in the JNU campus. Just after Ishan Uday did for ABVP, P Chidambaram was also invited by NSUI for a separate talk, “Myth of Development under Modi Regime.”
In response to the ABVP event, Northeast students went on a silent protest march again on Wednesday and demanded a written apology from ABVP.