New Delhi : This Year, Delhi University contentious four-year undergraduate programme has a new opponent -the Congress student wing.
The National Student Union of India (NSUI), which was a fence-sitter last year when the new programme was introduced, has now decided to jump into the fight against DU authorities.
The BJPs student wing, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, and the left-wing All India Student Association have been opposing FYUP since its inception.
So now, NSUI, which had kept away from the protests while the Congress was in power at the Centre, is trying to outdo the others with an indefinite hunger strike.
Five NSUI members are sitting on a fast since June 6 outside the Arts Faculty in the DU North Campus. Taking part in the fast is Karishma Thakur, a NSUI leader and Delhi University Student's Union (DUSU) general secretary. She told that their fast and protest marches will continue until FYUP was rolled back.
"We will also burn effigies of (HRD Minister) Smriti Irani and Vice-Chancellor (Dinesh Singh)," Thakur said. When asked why the NSUI did not protest last year, Guru Gopal, who is also on fast, said: "In our first year, we did not oppose the FYUP since we wanted to see the reaction of the students and give the programme a chance".
But the NSUI changed its stance after "an internal survey". "The survey revealed that over 90 per cent of the students are against the programme. This is why we are sitting on a hunger strike," Gopal said.
ABVP members stage a protest march. Now, with the BJP coming to power, Rawat and others in the ABVP see hope. The BJP has opposed the FYUP in its manifesto and the new Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani too has hinted at the possibility of rolling back FYUP.
But he said the ABVP will "continue getting lathicharged" if FYUP is not rolled back.
Teachers at the university too have been at the forefront opposing the FYUP. A Delhi University Teacher's Association (DUTA) recently met Irani over the FYUP.
Nandita Narain, DUTA president and a maths professor at St Stephen's College, said she did not know if the programme will be rolled back, but hoped that it would be before the new batch of students begin their term. All the unions, despite protesting separately, agree on FYUP's problem areas. They say an extra year proves to be a financial burden on the students, as college education costs go up by 33%. Also, due to poor infrastructure in many colleges, tents had to be put up to accommodate students to write exams. In one college, according to a NSUI leader, geography teachers were teaching Hindi.
All parties also agree on the solution - an immediate rollback of FYUP for the current batch as well as making the incoming batch get an honours degree in three years.