United Left Panel comprising All India Students’ Association (AISA), Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and Democratic Students’ Federation (DSF) made a clean sweep of the central panel seats in the Jawaharlal Nehru Students’ Union election.
At the forefront were newly-elected leaders, Geeta Kumari – president, from All India Students’ Association (AISA) ,Simone Zoya Khan – vice president, AISA, Duggirala Srikrishna – general secretary, from the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) Secretary, Shubanshu Singh from the Democratic Students’ Federation (DSF) Joint Secretary
Geeta Kumari (24) a second year M Phil student of history from the School of Social Sciences hails from Panipat, Haryana. An activist of AISA for five years she had been elected councillor twice and was a student representative to the GS-CASH (Gender Sensitive Committee Against Sexual Harassment) in 2015.
Kumari, who attributed her victory to students, promised to ensure justice for missing student Najeeb and raise the issue of seat cuts after taking charge.
Zoya Khan (26) born in Banda, Uttar Pradesh and brought up in Numaligarh in Assam, is a second year PhD student from Centre for Indo Pacific Studies in JNU’s School of International Studies.
First year PhD student Duggirala Srikrishna, who campaigned on the slogan of ‘Save JNU, save democracy’, hails from Prakasam district, Andhra Pradesh. An SFI leader, Srikrishna is an active student leader and draws his popularity from being successful after bringing several amenities to students of SIS, the school which he belongs to. He scored the highest number of votes – 2,082 ,leaving behind his rivals from other parties.
Shubanshu Singh (25), doing second year PhD in ‘Politics of Naming and Renaming’ from School of Social Sciences in JNU is a native of Agra. An active member of Democratic Students Federation for the past five years, he finished his under graduation from Sri Venkateshwara college, Delhi University, and masters from JNU.
Geeta Kumari will replace Mohit Pandey, also from the Left, as the new JNUSU president.
The fight for the president’s post was a much closer contest between Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP)’s Nidhi Tripathi, Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association’s (BAPSA) Shabana Ali and United Left’s Geeta Kumari with Ms. Kumari retaining a narrow lead through several rounds of early counting and then extending her lead as the day progressed. However Left candidate Geeta Kumari defeated Nidhi Tripathi of ABVP by 464 votes.
After the results were declared on Sunday morning, Tripathi said, “We have not lost. The ABVP has clinched the ideological, moral, and numerical victory in the polls.” “ABVP had looked at campus issues and not national or international politics. And that definitely has increased our appeal among students. For how long will students keep voting based on what happens in Gaza or Palestine? What matters to them more is what is happening here in campus,” said Tripathi.
Reacting to the ABVP’s defeat ,Saket Bahuguna , the national media convener of the ABVP, said although the United Left Panel won all four seats the ABVP was number two on all seats.
“With more than 4,000 votes together on four central panel posts, the ABVP is now the single-largest student organisation in JNU. We also won 10 seats of councillors, which is the highest for a single organisation this year. The ABVP particularly swept almost all seats in the science schools,” said Mr. Bahuguna.
He added that the ABVP was such a powerful force in JNU that all communist organisations, except the AISF, had to form an alliance to defeat it.
“This is a moral victory for nationalist forces in a so-called Leftist bastion where communist brainwashing had been the norm for decades. We thank the JNU community for voting and supporting the ABVP in JNUSU and we assure them that we will continue to work hard for their rights and corner the anti-India narrative of the communist brigade in JNU,” said Mr. Bahuguna.
Jawaharlal Nehru University was engulfed in cheers and jeers as counting of votes continued into the late hours of Saturday. The incumbent left alliance maintained its lead on the central four seas of JNU Students Union.
The RSS-backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) had initially reared its head as a strong contender but at time of going to print, it had settled into third position with students from the Left breaking into celebrations.
Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association ( BAPSA), fighting only its third election, finished third place but showed that there was space for a party that did not subscribe to the Left-Right binary. With every election, the Ambedkarite forces have put up a better show basing their campaign on the “unity of the oppressed” slogan.
The student organisation feels its vote bank has increased considerably although it did not win any seats. Last year, the charisma of its presidential candidate got it votes. This year, all the candidates the BAPSA put up got a considerable number of votes.
The AISF, which was banking on former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar’s popularity, failed to make a mark. Their presidential candidate Aparajitha Raja, daughter of CPI leader D Raja, finished fifth with 416 votes.
The National Students Union of India (NSUI) drew a blank with its central panel candidates not finding themselves in the top three posts.
Since EVMs are not used n the JNUSU polls ,counting has taken over 24 hours to complete. Interestingly, a large number of students, especially in the Science schools opted for “None Of The Above” NOTA. A total of 1512 NOTA votes were polled, as opposed to 728 total votes for NSUI across all posts. The NSUI secured almost half the number of NOTA votes.
At 58.6%, there was a marginal dip in voter turnout this year. However, the 2016 vote was the highest turnout JNUSU elections had seen in several years as it took place in the context of the aftermath of the February 9, 2016 incident. The outgoing JNUSU was forged between an AISA-SFI alliance.