AAPSU needs to regain its lost glory

[ Bengia Ajum ]

In the last week of May, the whole state, in particular the Itanagar Capital Region, waited with bated breath as the election of the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) was held here.

When the election process ended, everyone took a sigh of relief. The election witnessed violence, a festive atmosphere, and the involvement of massive amounts of money.

On the day the result was out, the markets in Itanagar were shut down as a precautionary measure. This speaks volumes about the image that the AAPSU has created for itself over the years. From politicians to bureaucrats, everyone took a keen interest in the outcome of the results. Dozi Tana Tara is the newly elected president of the union and will lead it for the next three years.

One may like them or not, but one cannot ignore the fact that the AAPSU is a very powerful organisation in Arunachal. It is perhaps the only pan-Arunachal indigenous organisation that is cadre-based. From the state to the district to the circle level, the AAPSU has a presence of its cadre. They have a strong presence in the grassroots level across Arunachal. Therefore the government fears it and the people of the state also look up to it to act as the voice of the voiceless. In the absence of strong opposition parties, people look up to the AAPSU to take up the issues concerning them.

However, after witnessing this year’s election process of the AAPSU, everyone who cares for the apex student organisation of the state will be deeply worried for its future. There were violent clashes between supporters of the presidential candidates, an alleged attempt to kidnap a candidate, and massive involvement of money. Especially the allegation of involvement of huge money to lure voters of Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU) is a matter of serious concern. The outgoing president, Hawa Bagang, made some serious allegations against the students of RGU. These students are the future of the state, and if the allegation of voting for cash by the university’s voters is true, then the future of the state does not look bright.

Coming back to the AAPSU itself, the union needs to regain its lost glory. Over the years, it has veered from its motive. Reformation of the AAPSU is much needed. There is too much dominance of certain tribes. There is a lack of proper representation of eastern Arunachal.

Also, the AAPSU is whatever it is today because of its past glory. Especially during the refugee movement, the Assam-Arunachal boundary row, and the fight for 80:20 ratio job quotas for APSTs in state government services, the union has played a critical role. The people of Arunachal have an emotional connection with the AAPSU. Many activists have sacrificed their lives for it. Till today AAPSU activists are fighting legal battles and police cases for participating in various union-related bandh calls. If the union wants to regain its lost glory, the new leadership will have to come up with strong leadership and reconnect with the student community. Or else it will also get lost in oblivion like the Khasi Students’ Union, the All Assam Students’ Union, etc. These unions once wielded much power but today are losing ground.

A new phenomenon this time was the involvement of Naga militants in the election process. This is a dangerous trend and candidates should avoid using militants in the AAPSU election process. The fate of students, or for that matter any election held by Arunachal, should not be allowed to be decided by people sitting in Nagaland, Manipur, or Myanmar.