No party has yet come up with assurances to field OUJAC students, arguably the torch-bearers of the separate State movement, in the upcoming polls
Only a few months ago, they dictated terms to political parties. Now, denied election tickets and recognition for their contribution to the Telangana agitation, students of the Osmania University Joint Action Committee (OUJAC) find themselves in political wilderness.
With constant pressure on the political class, the OUJAC had kept the movement for separate Statehood alive, sometimes even going to the extent of physically attacking politicians of the ruling and opposition parties alike.
While they do the rounds of offices of various parties now, no party has yet come up with concrete assurances to field them in the upcoming elections.
“Parties have belittled our sacrifices,” laments Punna Kailash Netha, TSJAC leader. Another prominent face of the OUJAC, Manne Krishank concurs. OU students were still being used by the parties to attack each other, but none had committed to fielding them, he says. “We should get at least 10 per cent seats.”
Students are outraged with the political class and promise to hit back.
“That the political parties have used them is an undeniable fact. But for their incessant clashes with the police that kept the campus on the boil, the agitation wouldn’t have been so intense,” agrees a senior professor, who adds that while threats of the students may seem tame, the parties could be in for a surprise.
A few, however, could make it. OUJAC chairman Pidamarthi Ravi is the TRS candidate for the Sattupalli Assembly segment. A few others like Rajaram Yadav and Anjaneya Goud have been assured tickets by the TDP. Daruvu Yellanna, Marri Anil and Rudra Reddy, who were active in the movement, hope that their services will be recognised.
“Our contribution is a notch above than the political JAC headed by Prof. Kodandaram,” argues Kailash Netha. “None of their leaders went to jail. We were jailed and hundreds of cases were foisted against us. We put our future at stake, unlike them. Their jobs were safe,” he says.
However, a section of OU teachers say the student participation in the movement and the granting of poll tickets could not be viewed from the same prism.
“Students should accept the party’s ideology and work for it before seeking a ticket,” says OU Teachers’ Association (OUTA) president Battu Satyanarayana. “Mere participation [in the movement] cannot be the criterion.” Another senior teacher Laxmikanth Rathod says students have to win over the people in their constituencies before seeking a ticket.
“The students’ role cannot be undermined, but they have not worked in constituencies. No party would like to impose their candidates on the locals. Moreover, money and caste play a crucial role in the selection,” he says.
Money bags do matter and winnability is the prime criterion for any party, and OU students seem to have lost the race due to these. Students of Kakatiya University, who also played a key role in the agitation, seem to have realised this and have therefore settled for MPTC and ZPTC tickets.