[ Bengia Ajum ]
These days the streets of the Itanagar Capital Region are adorned with hoardings of various candidates for the forthcoming election of the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU). It seems like there is literally a competition going on to see who can put a bigger hoarding and more numbers of hoardings. Also, the social media circle is flooded with pictures of the candidates launching campaign T-shirts by organising dinner/lunch parties. Even during the assembly and the Itanagar Municipal Corporation elections, one does not see this kind of publicity stunt.
It points out the massive financial involvement, which is a worrying sign. Since its formation, the AAPSU has played an important role in the socio-political history of Arunachal Pradesh. Some of the AAPSU activists have laid down their lives while fighting for the cause of the state. The union has played a strong role in protecting the rights of the indigenous people of the state. Also, the AAPSU, along with other community- and district-based student organisations, has always been very vocal against attempts of student organisations affiliated to political parties to make a strong entry into the state. This is why the ABVP, the NSUI, etc, have failed to make inroads in the state, and this has been a big blessing for the state. The campuses of the state are free from the politically affiliated student bodies and therefore the students are more united for the cause of the indigenous rights.
The AAPSU is truly a pan-Arunachal organisation where people from every tribe, region, and religion participate. The people of Arunachal have a deep emotional connection with it and always look up to it.
Over the years, due to the absence of strong opposition political entities, the people of the state have always looked up to the AAPSU to fill the vacuum and play the role of a strong, vibrant opposition voice which can take on the ruling governments. However, the dynamics are changing and now there is massive involvement of finance in the AAPSU elections. It is believed that the presidential candidates have to spend around Rs 10 crores if they want to win the election. The general secretary candidates also spend more than Rs 5 crores. If these figures are true, then it raises a serious question mark over the future of the state.
The majority of the voters in the AAPSU elections are students, starting from school to the university level. These students are considered the future of the state, and if they take money to vote in a student union election, it is a serious problem. The AAPSU president and general secretary do not get funds like MLAs and MPs after being elected. If they have to spend so much money on the election, tomorrow, after winning the election, they will be busy recovering the money and making profits too. For that, they will have no option but to make alliances with ruling politicians to recover that money.
So, how can the student community expect AAPSU leaders to take up their issue and fight against the ruling government?
Many of the candidates have reportedly sold their properties, and some are even borrowing money from private lenders at 10 percent interest just to finance the election campaign. This is a deeply saddening development and should worry every citizen of Arunachal. The student community in particular needs to introspect. Will you be able to question the AAPSU leaders for failing to raise your concerns in the future after selling your votes now? The young generation rant so much against corruption and nepotism on social media. It is time to practice what you preach on Facebook and WhatsApp and vote without taking money.