We talked to the two student leaders about their experiences of being Delhi University Student’s Union (DUSU) leaders, allegations of financial discrepancy, the gender bias in DUSU politics, and much more.
Correspondent: How has your past experience in DUSU been?
Priyanka: DUSU has been a big platform for me. I have been an ABVP activist since 2011 and to be an activist, a student leader, and an activist again, has been an amazing journey.
Correspondent: Mohit Garid, this years’ Joint Secretary, is a member of NSUI. How did all of you put your ideological differences aside to work as a team?
Priyanka: On a personal level, all of us had a good tuning with Mohit. In fact, we invited him for the first event we organized as a union, a celebration of Ambedkar Jayanti, for which he turned up as well. However, after that I’m not sure what happened. We organized multiple events after that and approached him as well, but we didn’t receive any proper, satisfying answer from him. It was reported that he was rebuked from his organization for attending the Ambedkar Jayanti event alongside us. But he and NSUI need to understand that when in DUSU, we work together. It is for the welfare of the students of Delhi University and not for ABVP or NSUI. He spent five lakhs, I don’t know where, since he conducted no events after this. The President has issued him a five-lakh budget but we didn’t see any programmes organized in the name of Mohit Garid.
Correspondent: For a long time, women in DUSU have been relegated to the position of Joint Secretary or General Secretary, with you (Vice President) being an exception. Are women being treated like tokens in DUSU politics?
Priyanka: It’s a presumption that women are treated like tokens in DUSU politics. In fact, ABVP has a large number of female candidates who are a part of it. Regarding who is offered what position, I would say it is a matter of capabilities and leadership skills. ABVP has women on all important posts, be it the National Secretary or in the Zonal Working Committee. Women have been given an important post and they have just as big a contribution in decision-making, as men do. I don’t think there is any such bias in ABVP.
Correspondent: Mohit, it was recently alleged that a sum total of five lakh rupees had been provided to you, for which no explanation was given, since you organized no major events. What would you say to that?
Mohit: The bills that had been passed on my behalf were worth two lakhs, not five lakhs, as is being claimed. By the time I was supposed to submit the remaining bills, our treasurer had resigned. The allegations that I organized no events are false, since I organized events for sports, specifically kickboxing, volleyball, cricket and football, and a hockey event in Shyam Lal College. I am deeply passionate about sports and I helped organize events for sports even when I was not in DUSU.
Correspondent: While ABVP stands on the far-right, AISA is on the far-left. NSUI and its ideologies are ambiguous to a lot of students. Do you think that makes it difficult for students to identify with it?
Mohit: We don’t believe in curtailing what people want to say. Unlike some political parties, we are not an organization that believes in classifying people on the basis of who is a nationalist and who is not. We don’t try to certify and label people. Our concern is to work for students.
Correspondent: To what would you credit your unexpected victory, in which you were able to break ABVP’s winning streak from the past two consecutive years?
Mohit: I worked relentlessly for three to four years. My teams in various colleges helped me immensely, helped students with their problems, and engaged with them on a personal level. It is with the support of that team of mine that I was able to win this seat.
Certain parts of the interview have been edited and translated for clarity.
Image credits: Hindustan Times and Youtube