Student Politics, the KG edition: When BabyVP Clashed with NS-U/A

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Student Politics, the KG edition: When BabyVP Clashed with NS-U/A

Illustration: Ahmed Sikander

At Kiddie Kangaroo, a KG-to-elementary school, a classroom of five-year-olds exercised their right to vote on Wednesday. For younger members, who haven’t reached college yet, both ABVP and NSUI, student bodies affiliated to BJP and Congress respectively, have a junior corps known as BabyVP and NS-U/A. The candidates contesting the election at K2 came mostly from these two parties, but there were also a few independents, who earned the name not only for their unaffiliated political status but also their ability to go to the bathroom without adult supervision.

When candidates are only five years old, what the speeches at their rallies lack is coherent thought – not that different from a typical political rally. At that age however, children are dangerously susceptible to the influences of corruption. “I’ve had to inform the watchman to check the students’ lunch boxes, so that no extra sweets and chocolates can be brought in to distribute among the electorate,” said Ms Maria, the lower-KG class teacher who also doubles up as K2’s Election Commissioner.

It is Ms Maria’s duty to ensure that the elections at K2 proceed in a free and fair manner. This means no wedgies, noogies, chimtis, or chamaats are to be handed out at the polling booth, which is the teacher’s desk. During the campaign, the candidates brought up burning issues like lowering the price of candy in the school canteen, and to give the class’ pet kitten the Sanskrit name Maarzhaar, or something more secular like Mr Socks.

Expecting five-year-olds to cast votes even before they can spell their candidate’s name is unrealistic. Instead, jars with photos of the candidates stuck to them were filled with an equal amount of Gems, and each child had to come forth and pick a Gem from their favourite candidate’s jar. Not only does this method enable the children to exercise their franchise, there is no drama over whether the EVMs are working properly. At the end of the voting, the candidate with the lowest number of gems in their jar (ergo the highest number of votes) wins.

The BabyVP won both crucial posts of class monitor and assistant monitor, while the NS-U/A could only win the nominal post of cupboard monitor.

The BabyVP won both crucial posts of class monitor and assistant monitor, while the NS-U/A could only win the nominal post of cupboard monitor. Naturally, the results were met with some grumbling from the losing parties over how some children ate more than a single Gem, even when they were told to eat just one. Ms Maria thanked her lucky stars she hadn’t used Lay’s instead, and pacified the situation, by calling the new class monitor and assistant monitor to the front of the class to reveal the new pet.

Holding the kitten aloft like Simba in The Lion King, the new monitor puffed out his 15-inch chest and proudly declared, “Maarzhaar isse bulayenge!”

The classroom erupted after this statement. NS-U/A supporters began throwing Gems at BabyVP members, and the newly discounted Frooti was sprayed on anyone unfortunate to be caught in the crossfire, including poor Ms Maria. Eventually, snack boxes were emptied out as well, and the food fight reached uncontrollable proportions. Only the ringing of the evening bell could put a stop to the fighting, as everyone had to be home by 4 pm to watch Motu Patlu on Nickelodeon.

Speaking to reporters the next day, Ms Maria had the look of someone who has survived being in a warzone. Pulling a stray chocolate wrapper from her hair, she said, “It might look like chaos, but despite all the mismanagement, confusion, and conflict, this is politics. We’re just preparing them for the real world.” As she turns to survey the wreckage of the classroom behind her, her voice begins to quiver as if she’s holding back a sob. She manages to choke out one more question, “They grow up so fast, don’t they?”

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