The party, which usually clinches the top posts in Jawaharlal Nehru University — (JNU) traditionally seen the red bastion — was found asserting itself as an alternative force in DU this year.
“After a long time, a Left organisation has created an impact among students, and it is visible in the results,” AISA president Sandeep Singh said.
Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP)’s Aman Awana won the post of DU students’ union president with 17,879 votes, closely followed by National Students’ Union of India (NSUI)’s Vishal Choudhary at 16,346. But in an unprecedented move, Delhi University students gave 8, 229 votes to AISA’s candidate — at least twice the number the party got last year.
Although the difference in votes among the winning candidates and that of AISA was substantial, the gap seems to be narrowing over the years. “We won nearly 4,000 votes in DUSU polls last year and in 2010, our presidential candidate got around 3,000 votes,” Sandeep said.
AISA members attribute their greater following to a search for an alternative to the “muscle and money power” politics exercised by NSUI and ABVP.
The testimony to this support came in the form of several largescale protests held in the last year, many of which were spearheaded by the party. These include the ‘Freedom without Fear’ campaign that followed the December 16 gangrape and the movement against the new four-year course.
In fact, AISA grabbed the opportunity to cash in on the brewing discontent over the four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) and lead the anti-FYUP struggle. So by the time, ABVP decided to take up the issue and demand a rollback of the new format, AISA had already made its mark.
“We held a public hearing on the four-year programme in April. A referendum was held a few weeks back, and a large number of students turned up to vote,” Sunny Kumar, an AISA member, said.
AISA members said the dissent over the new programme is what pushed them to prominence. “First-year students felt cheated when they realised they would have to study the same courses as in school. They opted for AISA as a platform to put forward their views. This gave AISA a momentum,” Sandeep said.
According to AISA activists, the organisation is trying to build a “political consciousness” among students. “For instance, we have constantly been highlighting issues related to lack of hostels, rise in college and tuition fees,” Sunny said.
But, they admit, it is a difficult task. “First-year students are mostly apolitical. Also, it is difficult to raise much awareness before elections,” Sunny said.