Saffron Surge in Left Citadel

The rapid strides made by ABVP in the Jawaharlal Nehru University by winning three of the four office-bearer posts in the JNUSU elections calls for a deep introspection. It is not just a defeat for AISA but a big blow to the very image of JNU as a left bastion, to its long nurtured and widely cherished left and liberal-democratic tradition. And this is precisely how the jubilant ABVP also interprets their victory. How did this come about?

There can be no doubt that lack of left unity in delivering a powerful and concerted ideological-political counter blow to the offensive of communal ABVP and the fragmentation of various left and democratic student organisations is primarily responsible for this. Especially to the sinister ABVP propaganda that AISA, which had been winning the last three elections at a stretch, is more preoccupied with politics outside the campus to the neglect of campus issues. As such this Goebbelsian propaganda would not have cut much ice with the students what with the ABVP itself peddling its own brand of Hindu nationalistic politics. Rather it is because the SFI, the AISF and other left and democratic student organisations readily and uncritically bought this argument of ABVP and all of them targeted AISA precisely on this plank - unmindful of the serious implications this will have for the politicisation of the students - that the ABVP has been able to gain so much.

It is not that AISA ever lagged behind in taking up campus issues, in attending to the routine problems of the students or in day-to-day union functioning, neither in JNU nor anywhere else where it has a presence. In JNU itself AISA has splendid achievements to its credit on this score. But everywhere its primary thrust has been on mobilisation of the students on larger political issues - be it NEP or communalism or international solidarity with fighting students in South Korea. It was a clever ploy on the part of ABVP to call for depoliticisation in the name of highlighting the campus issues. And the semi-anarchists and disrupters, through the unholy convergence against AISA, have played into the hands of RSS-led ABVP.

The recent political reverses of BJP would only translate into greater communal offensive by the Sangh Parivar, especially through its mass organisations like ABVP. The responsibility of revolutionary student movement in the present situation increases manifold where there is a scam a day, where the crisis-ridden system gets increasingly rotten day after day. Not the courts, not the government agencies, and not the bureaucratic reforms but only a massive student-youth assertion can open up the way for genuine national renewal. This was the case in every such juncture in history. This is how it should be in the present juncture too. It is only as part of such an overall student-youth assertion that the revolutionary left can trounce ABVP, as it very much did at the height of communal offensive, and regain JNU and restore its traditional glory.