NEW DELHI: JNU is a Left bastion. But three former students who contested the Bihar assembly polls belonged to different shades of the ideological spectrum.
Sandeep Saurav of CPML won handsomely by over 30,000 votes from Paliganj. Shakeel Ahmad Khan of Congress easily retained Kadwa. BJP’s Nikhil Anand lost by over 32,000 votes in Maner.
Both Saurav and Khan were notable student leaders. Saurav, 33, became the student union’s general secretary (2013-14) contesting on an AISA ticket, the student wing of CPML. Khan became JNUSU president in 1992. He was then politically affiliated with SFI, the student’s body of CPM. Anand, who lost to RJD’s evergreen Bhai Virendra, was a student at Centre for Chinese and Japanese studies in the 1990s.
Saurav says that engaging in campus politics helped him in various ways. “JNU was a playground of student organisations from the entire political spectrum. We got trained in handling questions and attacks from all quarters. University politics also helped us develop the confidence to speak on a range of subjects,” says the Paliganj MLA with over 15,000 followers on Twitter.
“JNU politics isn’t about getting better facilities for students. It is sensitive to larger issues: problems of peasantry, women’s empowerment, labour rights, communalism. We learnt to raise questions and mobilise the youth,” says Saurav, who earned a PhD in Hindi literature.
Anand, 45, says that in JNU, he “learnt the importance of ideological commitment and developed a concern for people’s welfare.”
Saurav ousted Jayvardhan Yadav of JD(U) in Paliganj, a living specimen of India Ignored, located about 40 kms from Patna. “I have been to villages which don’t have a single pucca home. My focus would be on improving education and health facilities. Paliganj lies between two rivers, Punpun and Sone, and knitted by a network of canals. They are in a sorry state and need immediate overhaul,” he says.
Khan, a former JNUSU president, had triumphed in 2010 by less than 6,000 votes. This time he bested Chandrabhushan Thakur (LJP) by over 32,000 votes. His Twitter bio describes him as “national Secretary, AICC” and in-charge of J&K. Kadwa, located in Katihar district, grapples with the annual problem of flood and land erosion every year. A news report pasted on his Facebook page quoted Khan as saying that more roads and puliya (small bridges) will be built in the area.