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’

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES CITY - Krit­tika Sharma & Mo­ham­mad Ibrar @times­group.com

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.

Yo­gesh Ku­mar

Amutha Jayadeep, Sarika Chowdhury, Ae­jaz Ahmed Rather and N Sai Balaji af­ter the vic­tory

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