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The neo-Lutyens elite

ABVP leaders make it big


Young student leaders of the Akhil BharatiyaVidyathi Parishad (ABVP) that shares close ties with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were at the forefront of agitation against the imposition of Emergency. Long after Emergency ended, they continued to be perceived as a trenchant anti-establishment force as they took on the Congress-backed National Students Union of India (NSUI) and the Left-supported student bodies like the Students Federation of India (SFI) and All India Students Federation (AISF) in university politics. The ideological differences between the ABVP and the rest were so sharp that violence often spilled into the streets during college and university elections. However, after the 2014 elections that brought Narendra Modi-led BJP to power, the anti-establishment became the establishment. Some of the prominent student leaders who agitated against Emergency are now blue-blooded members of Lutyens elite. They now wield the levers of power. In the current Modi government, 11 former AVBP leaders are ministers or hold important positions in the party or states. These include Amit Shah, Jagat Prakash Nadda, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Nirmala Sitharaman, Nitin Gadkari, Om Birla, Rajnath Singh, Sadanand Gowda, Piyush Goyal, Rajendra Shekhawat and Devender Fadnavis. Among all these former ABVP leaders, Shah has emerged as the most powerful figure after propelling the BJP to an opposition-crushing victory. In the short duration that he has been at the helm of the Home Ministry, he has positioned himself virtually as the deputy Prime Minister. Nadda, who earned his political spurs in Himachal Pradesh, is now the president of the richest political party in India, while Fadnavis is CM of one of India’s economic powerhouses. Therefore, it’s little wonder that the ABVP membership is growing exponentially, while NSUI, SFI and AISF struggle to stay relevant in student politics.

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