Students of Delhi University (DU) belonging to north-eastern states claim that they are not adequately represented in student politics. They say lack of interest shown by the student leaders further mars the prospects of resolving their problems.
They complain that student leaders approach them only during elections as they see the community only as a vote bank, which when polarized could make a significant difference in the election results.
"It’s vote bank politics, they are only concerned about their narrow political gains rather than resolving our problems and almost everyone is reluctant to give us due representation within the party set-up," said an Assamese student of DU.
The prominent issues related to north-eastern students are safety and security of their women, lack of accommodation, racial discrimination, cultural and linguistic barriers and feeling of alienation or segregation from the mainstream.
"Contesting student body elections is still a distant dream for us, as far as our proper representation in these bodies is concerned with only a few exceptions no other student wing caters to it," said a DU student from Tripura.
The leaders from students’ parties, however, claim that their parties are taking into account the needs of the students from northeast.
"We give proper representation to students of northeast in our organizational setup and they have a significant say while policy and decision making is done. They constitute not only our grassroots volunteers but also among the top decision making bodies, we are constantly striving and encouraging them so that they can actively contest the elections also," said Amrita Dhawan,National Vice-President NSUI.
"The students from northeast region are our ground volunteers who work hand in hand with us and are most welcome if they want to contest the elections. ABVP follows the policy of non-discrimination," said Mohit Nagar, DUSU president.
"A lot is to be done to make all realise that our brothers and sisters from northeast are our integral part. I think that every student wing, despite political differences should contribute in resolving the issues confronting the northeast students. SFI always stands for their cause and we have a huge support base from northeastern students," said Prashant Mukherjee, member of SFI.
According to academics it is important that the northeast students are integrated into student politics and made to feel a part of it.
"Until and unless they are given proper representation in political parties and their student wings with significant say in decision and policy making and are not made to contest student body elections, no significant and remarkable change will be observed in their situation," said a DU teacher.
A student from Manipur believes that northeast students are not a homogenous political community and remain divided on several issues.
"There are many factions within the northeastern community with different political inclinations but that should act as a strength rather than weakness of community because a true democracy always cherish and admires diversity," said the Manipuri student.
However, a student from Assam said they should shun all differences among themselves and decide to support one student wing. "In unity lies strength.Lack of unity is our greatest weakness and due to this we are undermined by others," said the 21-year-old student from Assam.
The DU administration said it encourages diversity of political ideas on campus. "Cultural and other diversity should be admired, ideas, ideologies and other differences should be respected to make the environment more conducive for students from northeastern region," said Dr Amrita Bajaj,Deputy Dean Students’ Welfare.