Younger generations have remained an essential incubator for nurturing the country’s political leadership. Many of the celebrated politicians in India rose from various student outfits. Today, we will talk about the leaders who had begun their political journey as student union leaders.
The youth is said to be the backbone of a country. With their strength and action, they can shake the entire social and political systems.
Whether Hong Kong’s pro-democracy wave or Chile’s dissent towards Pinochet’s dictatorship, students are becoming the face of a broad range of movements and reforms.
In India, too, younger lads are actively participating in politics. Since youngsters constitute our country’s most significant electoral section, they have the power to shape the political structure.
Student involvement is not limited to college campuses only. They have become significant stakeholders in making policy decisions. And this growing sight is linked with ‘Student Unions.’
A student union is a student-run association or group. They represent the students and make their voices heard loudly and fearlessly. Student unions act as pressure groups for the government. They address the issues of the younger generation in and outside college campuses.
However, it is not a new phenomenon.
For several decades, the nation has witnessed an increase in student leaders and groups. Interesting by-products of faithless and treasonous politics in India were the student unions.
Do you know student unions have given many great politicians to our country? Let us dig deeper into it.
11 politicians who had started their careers by being part of student unions.
- Arun Jaitley
Former Finance Minister and late BJP leader Arun Jaitley was an active student leader in the 1970s.
In 1974, Arun Jaitley was appointed the President of the Delhi University Student Union ( DUSU). In 1977, he was elected President of the Delhi Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). ABVP is one of the largest student organizations in the country.
Arun Jaitley took part in the Bihar movement led by Jaya Prakash Narayan against the government’s misrule in the 1970s. He even organized several demonstrations against the Great Indian Emergency by PM Indhira Gandhi in 1975.
For his anti-emergency activism on the college campus, he was imprisoned for 19 months. After all these, Arun Jaitley finally joined BJP.
- JP Nadda
The working President of BJP and former Health Minister, Jagat Prakash Nadda ascended from a student body leader.
JP Nadda was a Patna college student when he joined Jaya Prakash Narayan’s Bihar movement against a corrupt regime in 1974.
He later enrolled in ABVP and became a dynamic student leader. After winning a student body election, he was appointed the President of ABVP.
In 1991. JP Nadda was elected as the national President of the BJP’s youth wing.
- Sharad Yadav
Sharad Yadav is a politician and the former President of Janta Dal (United), a center-left political party.
He was the President of the Students Union of Jabalpur University and the President of Samajwadi Yujan Sabha.
During the time of the Bihar movement in 1974, Jaya Prakash Narayan selected Sharad Yadav to contest the Lok Sabha by-elections from Jabalpur constituency Madhya Pradesh. He was said to be the first student union leader handpicked by Narayan.
Termed as ‘People’s Candidate,’ he won the trend-setting elections against the ruling Congress. However, his term lasted only for a year as PM Indhira Gandhi imposed an emergency in 1975.
- Amit Shah
Home Minister and former BJP President Amit Shah started as the leader of the student-wing of ABVP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
He joined RSS at the age of 14 and ABVP at 19. After enrolling in BJP in 1987, Amit Shah became an active leader of BJP’s youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM).
- Mamata Banerjee
Mamata Banerjee is the West Bengal Chief Minister and chief of the All India Trinamool Congress. She became interested in politics when she was only 15.
While pursuing History from the Jogmaya Devi College, she set up Chhatra Parishad. It was the student’s wing of the Congress (I). She beat the Democratic Students’ organization of the Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist).
Mamata Banerjee continued working with Congress (I) in West Bengal and subsequently rose to higher ranks.
- Prakash Javadekar
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar was a representative of ABVP while studying at the University of Pune.
During the Emergency of 1975, Prakash Javadekar led a non-violent Satyagraha in Pune. For which he was imprisoned for several months.
In the 1980s, Prakash Javadekar became an essential part of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha.
- Ajay Maken
Indian National Congress Leader Ajay Maken was an active student union member at Delhi University.
He held the positions of Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports (independent charge); Union Minister of State for Home Affairs; Union Minister of State for Urban Development; and Cabinet Minister for Power, Transport and Tourism, Government of Delhi. And became the youngest speaker in the Legislative Assembly of Delhi in 2003.
Ajay Maken was elected as the President of the DUSU in 1985. With this post, he stepped into the political arena at the age of 21.
Ajay was also a part of Congress’s youth wing National Students Union of India (NSUI).
- Ravi Shankar Prasad
Ravi Shankar Prasad is the Minister for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology, and Law & Justice. He started his journey as a student leader in the 1970s.
While practicing law in Patna University, he became a part of ABVP. Ravi Shankar fiercely organized many protest rallies against PM Indhira Gandhi’s rule.
Ravi Shankar Prasad was even jailed for actively taking part in Jaya Prakash Narayan’s Bihar Movement.
- Alka Lamba
Former Congress leader Alka Lamba joined Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in 2013.
Entering the political fray at the age of 19, Alka Lamba became a part of the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) in 1994.
In 1995, she won the elections for the President of DUSU.
After working as All India Girl Convener for NSUI, Alka was appointed as NSUI’s President.
- Nitin Gadkari
Former and the youngest BJP President Nitin Jairam Gadkari entered the political scene as a student union leader. Currently, he is the Union Cabinet Minister for Road Transports & Highways; and Minister of Small, Micro, and Medium Enterprises.
He was an active member of ABVP. In 1985, Nitin Gadkari was elected as the President of Talcher College Students’ Union. He was also appointed as the President of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha.
In the state of Odisha, Nitin was actively involved in a student movement.
- Vijay Goel
Vijay Goel is an Indian politician, social worker, activist, and former Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports. He fully entered into politics after becoming the youth president of BJP in Delhi.
While studying in Delhi University, he joined RSS and ABVP. Vijay Goel was elected as the President of DUSU in 1977.
During the 1975 dissent against the Great Indian Emergency, he showed excellent student activism on a college campus, which landed him into jail for three months.