New Delhi: A day before Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students go to polls on Friday to elect their representatives for the JNU Students Union, leading parties of the Left and BJP-affiliated ABVP are upbeat about their prospects of winning the polls.
After All India Students Federation (AISF) refused to enter the fray this year, the two other major Left parties — Students Federation of India (SFI) and All India Students Association (AISA) — have agreed upon a strategy to fight the elections jointly, in that neither of the parties will field its candidate for a post if there’s already one fielded by the other.
Although the alliance betrays a clear attempt to deliver a defeat to their main opposition, BJP-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Saurabh Sharma, joint-Secretary, JNU Students Union, from the latter party explains the reason for the alliance as erosion of faith among students towards Left parties after the February 9 protests in the campus and subsequent arrest of JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar.
“They have joined hands now because after the February 9 incident Left parties’ credibility had hit rock bottom. They did not work at all throughout the year, only politics, going to this rally and that, and never addressed the students’ issues,” Sharma told IANS.
Sharma criticised the Left Front as a whole in curbing dissensions, within and without, yet pretending to be well-wishers of minorities and champions of free speech.
“AISA single handedly scuttled the credibility of JNU by avoiding to take any action against its member in the August 20 rape case against a JNU student. JNU was at the forefront of agitation for gender justice after the ‘Nirbhaya’ incident, but all these Left parties don’t ever practice what they preach,” Sharma said.
Anmol Rata, an AISA activist and a Phd scholar at JNU, was accused of raping a first year Phd student from the same university. After being in hiding for three days, he surrendered to police on August 24.
Sharma also accused Leftist professors of “misusing” the Gender Sensitisation Committee against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH), the university watchdog for such cases formed in 1999 after Vishakha guidelines, to settle scores against those students who dare to disagree with them.
On the other hand, Mohit Pandey, presidential candidate from AISA, is confident of giving a drubbing to ABVP this election while writing off the National Students Union of India (NSUI) of the Congress as having no base.
“We will win the election to reclaim the democratic space, to work for the disabled students, and for transgender students through GSCASH… ABVP is a major opponent only because of BJP being in power at the Centre,” he said, while admitting that SFI is their partner in this election.
NSUI presidential candidate, Sunny Dhiman, too, said that winning the election is not an objective and his party is a small player. He emphasised that they are there for fighting the “larger issues” as the “Feb 9 incident connected JNU politics to bigger politics outside”.
“It was all a doing of the radical Left. They first raised anti-India slogans then retreated behind the argument for ‘azaadi’ when the heat was turned on them,” Dhiman told IANS.
Terming the radical Left of JNU as “two-faced and opportunistic”, he said, “Although I am an atheist I don’t see any point in slandering gods. When these people call Durga (the goddess) a prostitute or slander the Koran, then there will be chaos, and I am strongly opposed to such acts. AISA doesn’t believe in the Indian Constitution, yet when government came down heavily on its members after the February event they took refuge in Article 19 (A)… NSUI is not a big force in JNU but we will try to make sure AISA and ABVP don’t win the elections,” he concluded.
The date for declaration of election results has not been officially announced but it’s likely to be September 11.