Delhi University, ABVP and Intellectual Double Standard

A lot has been written about violence at Ramjas college of Delhi University. Writers quote Prof. Amartya Sen, who has said a climate of fear persists in Indian universities. Other writers throw in happenings at JNU, University of Hyderabad, IIT Chennai, University of Jadavpur etc, to show how Indian Universities are becoming intolerant to discuss and debate ideas. Usual suspect / cultprit is rightwing ABVP, and by extension RSS and BJP lead NDA government at the centre. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that ABVP is not washed in milk and honey. ABVP may have lumpen elements like any other political party. Evidence is emerging that at clash that happened in Delhi University, AISA – SFI affiliated students may not be all innocent bystanders. A picture has appeared where a SFI activist is brutally attacking another person, I would guess ABVP activist. The same person later blamed ABVP for beating up SFI – AISA cadres, and police for inaction. Such a scenario is easily believable. More so, when  dislike of a rightwing organisation becomes prevalent.  News channels ran stories round the clock. 

All said and done, political violence is not uncommon in Indian universities. Compared to type of violence perpetrated by left and TMC affiliated students in Prof. Sen’s backyard, what we saw in Delhi University was very mild. Let us consider a few example : 

  • In late sixties and early seventies, at the peak of naxalite movement, CPM, CPIML and congress used to fight pitched battle in Kolkata and West Bengal. Knives, home made bombs and pipe guns were routinely used. Many students have lost their lives in political violence. History of naxalite violence is well known and is still continuing.
  • After Trina Mool Congress (TMC) took charge of West Bengal, students affiliated to the party had attacked Presidency University. Presidency university was considered a bastion of SFI, CPM affiliated student body. Rape threat were issued to students. University was vandalised. A TMC councillor was arrested.
  • On the last day of filing papers for student union election in Howrah, West Bengal, a TMC student had chased a SFI affiliated student, smashed his head and dumped his body in a canal.
  • In Burdwan University, TMC affiliated staff members had assaulted SFI affiliated student members who had protested against erroneous marking of examination papers. VC of the university had invited police and got SFI affiliated students arrested. Inviting police to campus was considered a big no no at JNU.
  • One cannot ignore violence perpetrated by left cadres  on RSS workers in Kerala. Nearly 2000 RSS workers have been murdred. 
  • Left is so vocal about Rohith Vemulla’s suicide. Left claims Rohith was a dalit, which Andhra government does not accept. Yet a living dalit student is being harassed and persecuted by left for not following their line of thinking.
  • Left that preaches so sanctimoniusly on freedom of expression, had banned Usha Utthup’s performance in Kolkata bar. They called it perverse culture – apasanskriti.
  • Champion of freedom of expression, left leaning student union did not allow Baba Ramdev to address students at JNU. A film by Vivek Agnihotri was allowed screening at JNU after a lot of persuasion.

It is an universal phenomenon, whenever a student body and its parent body becomes strong, they try to capture the space available to them. Left did it, TMC doing it, and ABVP is trying to do the same. 

Of most student bodies, left is most articulate. The urbane left can articulate its grievance well to electronic media and play victim card very well. Being backed by academia in elite institutes, left can also articulate their pro poor, pro underdog position in print media. Yet, when they come to power, left is very much capable of showing its iron fist. Ultra left has no compunction killing civilian advisis, whose battle they profess to fight. Ultra left exhibit no mercy while killing security forces. Yet on a TV studio they articulate in a most sophisticated manner the root cause theory of oppression of poor and dispossessed. I think nation understands where left is coming from. No wonder their support base is shrinking and their shriek is becoming louder.

Indian intellectuals and thought leaders have no problem with the left violence.  At least, they do not articulate it as much. They can accept TMC hooliganism, and corruption of congress. But intelligentsia cannot stand ABVP. Not only ABVP cadres are as coherent in English, they tend to antagonize people by their stance on many things urban Indians like. So there is a widespread dislike for rightwing ABVP among professionals. Yet ABVP is growing. Unlike left and TMC, ABVP is trying to create a different idea of India. So the battle for idea of India has actually began. 

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