On April 24, AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal had hit out at BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi saying that he is politicising one of the pioneer institutes of India – Banaras Hindu University (BHU) after Modi started his roadshow by paying floral tribute at the statue of Madan Mohan Malviya at the university. But, the picture inside the prestigious BHU is in stark contrast to Kejriwal’s claim. Most of the election roadshows either started or concluded in front of campus’s entry gates but the politics doesn’t end here.
Modi and Kejriwal have become the favourite topic within the institution. The students of the BHU are divided mainly into two groups, the Modi and the Kejriwal camps; the Congress is a distant third. Modi’s popularity has out-shined the Kejriwal charm amongst the students. There are a large number of students who think that the Gujarat Chief Minister will bring development to the temple town.
Around 2,000 BHU students have been volunteering for the BJP from March 23, working for the party around the day. “Out of the 2000 volunteers, between 100 and 200 are associated with the RSS,” said Akhilesh Singh, Varanasi communication cell head and also a BHU student of the journalism department. Akhilesh was associated with RSS before joining the BJP in February, 2014.
“The volunteers are basically locals as most of the BHU students are not registered voters here. We are targeting people of Varanasi as they are aware about the place well,” Akhilesh added. The exams are on in the BHU, but this hasn’t deterred them to work for the BJP. The students stop volunteering two days prior their exams and once it is over, they are again back to the field. They are going door to door and trying to convenience people on why they should vote for Modi. “Narendra Modi is the best option for the PM’s post,” says Akhilesh.
Though campaigning inside the institute is banned by the administration, the students are promoting ideologies of their respective parties by holding talks, chats and debates on various issue. Meanwhile, a student who doesn’t wish to be named said that a few Modi supporters can be seen distributing pamphlets inside the campus. To which, the BJP communication cell head said that they don’t promote such action and condemn it.
Meanwhile, Kejriwal too has hit the chord of a few students. The former Delhi Chief Minister is popular amongst the students of IIT-BHU and medical courses. Kejriwal, in the past too garnered supports of many IITians, his alma mater. “Arvind Kejriwal led the campaign of telling the country as to which direction the national politics should go. People of Varanasi should also decide as to which side they are in the fight between truth and honesty,” said Harshit Jain, 2nd year student at the department of ceramic engineering, IIT-BHU. Some of the IIT-BHU students are also working for the AAP in Varanasi.