JNU painted red, yet again, as Left bags all 4 BAPSA loses sheen as vote share dips to 13%, ABVP claims moral victory
Calls It Victory Of Students Against ‘Fascist Administration’
New Delhi: The Left coalition swept the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union polls again this year, warding off the saffron challenge in an intensely fought election that saw the highest voter turnout in recent years.
Left Unity, an alliance of four groups (AISA, SFI, DSF AND AISF), won all four central panel and 15 councillor posts, the results of which were announced on Sunday, with N Sai Balaji of AISA defeating Lalit Pandey (ABVP) by a huge margin of 1,179 votes for the post of president.
Left Unity routed its rivals comprehensively in the other three top posts as well, with Sarika Chowdhury (SFI) winning the vicepresident’s post with a 52% vote share. Aejaz Ahmed Rather of DSF and Amutha Jayadeep of AISF are the new general secretary and joint secretary, respectively.
The resounding victory for the Left came amid a massive voter turnout of 67.8%, 9 percentage points higher than last year. The elections were marred with tussles, allegations of rigging, a 15-hour blockade and a night full of rumours of violence.
Calling the results a victory for unity of students against the “fascist JNU administration”, Balaji said: “This election has shown the true face of ABVP and the administration which is anti-democratic. Since there are no EVMs here like DU, they tried to disturb the counting process and falsely accused the neutral EC.”
The new president, a PhD student at the School of International Studies, has been in JNU since 2014. Hailing from Hyderabad, he did his undergraduation from Institute of Management Studies, Noida.
On ABVP terming the THE WINNERS: Left Unity an “alliance of compromise”, Balaji said their coalition was that of like-minded students “who want to defeat the ABVP, which wants to turn the campus into ‘Lynchistan’.”
Reacting to the results, the saffron group said they has achieved a “moral victory” in the elections.
All four panel candidates of the Left Unity were voted to power by close to 40% vote share. The lowest margin of victory (800 votes) was in the joint secretary’s election, where Jayadeep polled 39.6% of the votes while ABVP’s Venkat Chaubey got 24%.
Balaji polled 2,161 votes to defeat his closest rival from ABVP who polled 982. BAP- SA’s Praveen Thallapelli got 675 votes. Interestingly, Chattra RJD too made its mark in its maiden elections with its presidential candidate Jayant Kumar polling 540 votes.
Balaji promised that he would ensure there are no problems in research due to fund cuts. “The reservation policy must be implemented and the Rs 515 crore loan taken by the university administration must be opposed.”
The victory was particularly sweet for the Left as a majority of left-leaning outfits came together with a single point agenda of defeating the ABVP, which is aligned ideologically with the BJP. In 2016, arch rivals AISA and SFI had come together in the backdrop of the February 9, 2016 ‘anti-national’ sloganeering incident on campus. The alliance has grown since then, with two other groups (DSA and AISF) joining it.
One of the highlights of this year’s election was the erosion of support for ABVP in the science schools and special centres, which were considered saffron bastions. This year, Pandey polled 378 votes while Balaji got 335 votes — just 43 votes less — from these schools.
“The Left would never get these many votes from the science schools as they have this year. This is because of the support ABVP gave to Atul Johri, the professor accused of sexually harassing students of the science schools,” said Mohit Pandey, former JNUSU president.
This was corroborated by the new vice president Sarika Chowdhury who said she took lead in the science schools “as many came out to vote in anger against the ABVP and its tacit support to Atul Johri.”
However, the win for the Left did not come easy. While counting was held up for nearly 15 hours on Saturday, the Left camp said its cadres were roughed up in the university. Former AISA general secretary Satarupa Chakrab orty and JNU student Sumitran were allegedly beaten up on Saturday night, after counting had resumed. New Delhi: BAPSA, the relatively new player in the JNU campus politics, has failed to sustain itself in the university’s high-voltage politics, losing its second position in the 2017 students’ union polls to ABVP this year.
While last year Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association (BAPSA)’s vote share was 20.2%, it dipped to 13% this year. The performance is disheartening, given the fact that even in 2016, when the Left parties like AISA and SFI had come together for the JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) polls, the newcomer BAPSA came a close second with its presidential candidate’s speech at the presidential debate laying the ground for the organisation.
While a Left Unity member blamed “poor organisational structure and no concrete ideological backing” for the slip, BAPSA claimed that its performance hadn’t faltered. “We have been working hard this year and built our organisation. But the reservation policy was not met and viva-voce marks were hiked to 100%, making it difficult for students from marginalised sections to enter JNU. We missed out on this support,” said Shabana Ali, BAPSA’s presidential candidate in 2017.
She pointed out that BAPSA had got a councillor’s seat at School of Arts and Aesthetics, traditionally a Left bastion. “Politics in JNU is tough as it is like a fort which we have to break into,” Shabana added.
BAPSA’s poor performance has made ABVP the principal opposition in the campus, though it is still far behind the Left Unity’s almost 42% vote share. While for the presi- dent’s post, the AISA candidate got 41.8% votes, the ABVP candidate could manage only 18.9% votes. Its joint secretary candidate did relatively better with 24% vote share.
“We see it as a moral victory where we fought alone but the Left had to form an alliance to stop us as they know that our popularity is increasing on the campus,” said ABVP presidential candidate Lalit Pandey.
Vote Share %
“While the Left believes in propaganda politics, we talk about issue-based politics. The students have made ABVP the single largest party in this election and we have got more votes,” he claimed.
In its official statement, the right-wing student organisation said they had accepted the mandate and would continue its fight against the Left violence. “ABVP will continue to be a
VOTES POLLED & MARGIN
The resounding victory for the Left alliance came amid a massive voter turnout of 67.8%, 9 percentage points higher than last year
constructive opposition on JNU campus and will keep fighting for students’ rights. The biased act of election commission in JNUSU elections is against the democratic system of the university,” it said.
Congress-backed NSUI did better than last year when they had got less votes than NOTA, but still the new entrant RJD’s presidential candidate fared better than it with 540 votes.
Amutha Jayadeep, Sarika Chowdhury, Aejaz Ahmed Rather and N Sai Balaji after the victory