DUSU’s Exclusive Club of the 70s
It was a Sunday (January 30) with a difference. The venue was the third floor terrace of the India International Centre and the occasion was very significant as it was emotional. It was a get together of the newly formed exclusive club of the Delhi University Student leaders of the seventies.
The meeting, the second of its kind—the first (a smaller group) was held at the residence of Sudhir Goyal, former UP minister and Bahujan Samaj Party leader some months ago, brought so many of DU’s former student leaders together. This time the host was Arun Jaitley, leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha and DUSU president between 1974-75. The invitations had been sent by Sudhir Goyal, “the Founder of the Club” and the guest list included Raj Kumar Jain, Lalit Mohan Gautam, Deepak Malhotra, Rohit Bal Vohra “Pappu’’, Raian Karanjawala, Vijay Mehta, Rama Shankar Singh, Vijay Pratap, Gopi Manchanda, Aditi Gupta Desai, Madhu Kishwar, Amarjit Kaur, Rajat Sharma, Vijay Goel, Sher Singh Dagar, S.S.Gandhi, Vishwabandhu Gupta, Bhagwan Singh, Mujeeb sa`ab, Nanak and yours truly besides some special invitees such as D.P.Tripathi aka DPT, Kamlesh Shukla, Arun Kumar, Harish Gupta, Vinod Dua, Dr Uma Shankari, Dr Mala Khullar, Dr Ritu Priya and Ramesh Dikshit.
The atmosphere was light and casual as the invitees, many of whom were meeting each other after several years shared jokes and recalled the “good old days” when the student movement was “very potent and alive” and the era where student leaders may have had their ideological differences but were close to each other at a personal level’’.
Those present also resolved never to bring in their ideological and political beliefs to dilute the significance of this exclusive club where personal equations were the very essence of this get together. Rama Shankar was keen that the next meeting should be held at his farm house near Gwalior while Vijay Mehta, Rajat Sharma and Madhukeshwar wanted to be future hosts too.
The names and telephone numbers with e-mails were duly recorded and group photographs taken to mark the occasion. An album of the photographs as well as the contact details of each invitee will be sent to them in due course by Sudhir Goyal who once belonged to the Samajwadi Youvjan Sabha, the students wing of the erstwhile socialist party. The group has people of various political leanings from the Left to the BJP to the Congress and other formations.
The important factor of the meeting was that the student leaders of the seventies have had a deep rooted friendship which blossomed at the Coffee houses in the Delhi University, Law Faculty, Ramble restaurant (Palika Bazar parking lot is located there) and the Parlour and Cellars, the two restaurants on the corner of the Regal building. Most significantly, the Coffee at Cellars and Parlour was always at the cost of Mujib sa’ab who has been a great benefactor for student leaders cutting across party lines and affiliations.
There was general agreement that this group should be enlarged to include several others. Pappu suggested that since Raj Kumar Jain was going to retire from the Delhi University finally on February 28 after being associated with it for more than 45 years, a special lunch should be held on March 5 to honour his services to the university. For those who do not know, Raj Kumar Jain has been a veteran socialist student leader who inspired many to take to politics. Though he was deprived of being elected as the DUSU president by a former Vice Chancellor, he was one of a total fire brand variety.
Arun Jaitley, of course, is the most successful of all DUSU leaders so far as the journey in politics goes. He was also the second person to be elected as the DUSU president in a direct election after Alok Kumar. Raian is one of the most successful lawyers and Pappu served as the political adviser to Rupert Murdoch when the STAR TV came to India. Deepak Malhotra is the principal of Dyal Singh College and Rajat Sharma a well known TV personality. Gopi Manchanda was one of the closest aides of former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar and Vijay Goel is in line of becoming a future Chief Minister of Delhi. Amarjit Kaur is in the secretariat of the CPI and Madhu Kishwar, the first woman to contest the DUSU polls in 1972 on a SFI/SYS ticket against Deepak Malhotra of the NSUI and Shriram Khanna of the ABVP (the ultimate winner), is an activist, editor and political analyst.
Similarly, Rama Shankar Singh is a well known name in Madhya Pradesh politics and Vijay Pratap, human rights activist has been associated with many jail bharo andolans. Bhagwan Singh was the first DUSU president to be elected on an ABVP ticket in 1971 and is a developer and interior decorator. Subhash Chopra, former president of the Delhi Congress was the first president of the seventies being elected in 1970. He was not present and neither was Hari Shankar Gupta, the DUSU president of 1978. Rajesh Oberoi, the DUSU president of 1979 died many years ago. It is hoped that this club will thrive and the old association bonding the student leaders will continue to guide them in the future as well.