New Delhi, Sept. 13: The Congress's student wing has broken the four-year reign of the RSS-backed ABVP in the Delhi University Students Union (Dusu), the largest such directly elected union in the country.
The elections this time had stoked interest outside campuses, too, because they were fought on the planks of nationalism on the one hand and secularism, free speech and anti-goondaism on the other - livewire issues that are being debated elsewhere, too.
The Congress's National Students Union of India (NSUI) bagged the posts of president and vice-president in the students' union while the ABVP had to settle for secretary and joint secretary. In the outgoing union, barring the joint secretary slot that was filled by the NSUI, the other three posts were held by the ABVP.
A decisive factor was the violence in Ramjas College over hosting a seminar in February. ABVP supporters were accused of beating up students and teachers. The election outcome is being seen as a backlash against the strong-arm tactics.
Rocky Tuseed of the NSUI, who was allowed to contest only after a high court order, won the president's post by a margin of 1,590 votes. The ABVP has won the joint secretary's post with a margin of 342 votes, prompting the NSUI to cry foul and threaten to move court.
The Delhi BJP was quick to declare that the result was not a verdict on the Modi government. On the other side, Rahul Gandhi thanked DU students for "reposing faith in Congress ideology".
The Left parties did not do well but their strident campaign against goondaism appears to have helped the NSUI consolidate the anti-ABVP votes.
This was also the first time the NSUI brought out pamphlets directly attacking RSS. Unlike previous years when the NSUI talked only about campus amenities, this time it also focussed on issues such as secularism and free speech.
The shift in strategy is attributed to the appointment of Ruchi Gupta the first in-charge from outside the NSUI. She was earlier with social activist Aruna Roy's group, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan, and a consultant with McKinsey in New York.
"DU has students from all over the country and they have rejected the politics of hate, division, goondaism and ideological totalitarianism. NSUI is charting a shift in student politics to make it more progressive and issue-based," Gupta said today.