JNUSU polls: Left Unity decimates ABVP. Sedition gambit fails.
Seven months after a complaint by BJP MP Maheish Girri gave JNU the "anti-national" tag, the University students have exacted sweet revenge. BJP's students' wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad has been decimated in the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) elections.
The Left Unity alliance of the All India Students' Association (AISA) and the Students' Federation of India (SFI) have won all the four seats in the Central panel. Mohit Pandey of AISA has been elected as President. ABVP's Jahnwi finished a distant third behind Pandey and Rahul Sonpimple of the BIrsa Ambedkar Phule Students' Association. BAPSA's rise, in fact has been one of the defining features of this election.
BAPSA's Rahul, whose speech during the presidential debate made quite an impact, polled 1,488 votes, 329 less than Pandey's tally of 1,817.
ABVP managed to come a distant second in the vice-president and general secretary elections. But in both these they were around a thousand votes behind the Left Unity panel, that is a margin of above 20%.
The joint secretary election turned out to be a fight between Left Unity's Tabrez who won 1,533 votes and Pratim of the SFI breakaway Democratic Students' Federation, who won 1,263 votes.
But the final tally, announced late at night, was only incidental. The celebrations in JNU began hours earlier, as soon as it became clear that ABVP had been wiped out.
Nothing exemplified this more than a comment by outgoing JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar, who was arrested following the 9 February protest and charged with sedition after Girri's complaint.
Seeing a few ABVP supporters on campus in the evening, Kumar quipped "you people are still here? I thought you had been thrown out".
Though ABVP was elated by its victory in the Delhi University Students' Union elections, whose results were announced earlier on Saturday, JNU turned out to be a nightmare.
The BJP's student wing performed below expectations even in the elections to the councillors of various schools.
According to ABVP presidential nominee, Jahnwi who called herself a "sherni (tigress)" during the presidential debate, "The Left ganged up against us. Yet we gave a fight...There was a widespread negative campaign against the ABVP".
"What the Left did on 9 February was despicable. They were afraid of us so they decided to unite," she told Catch.
Umar Khalid, who was arrested along with Kumar, said that this was a victory against fascist forces.
"Does Rajnath Singh see a Hafiz Saeed hand behind ABVP's decimation in JNU? Just curious," he wrote on Facebook, poking fun at the allegations made during the JNU protests in February that they were being backed by Saeed and Pakistan's ISI.
"I guess "Swacha Bharat" is successful in JNU.
ABVP is all clean," said Richa a student.
Rise of BAPSA
This was only the second election for BAPSA and the outfit has made a significant impact. Besides the good performance of their presidential candidate Rahul, BAPSA came a respectable third in the Vice-President and General Secretary elections.
In its party manifesto, BAPSA has described itself as an independent student organisation that is fighting against Brahmanism and Capitalism. The rise of BAPSA must be seen in the context of the protests in Hyderabad Central University and outside following the death of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula.
Vemula's suicide, which many called an institutional murder, sparked a tremendous mobilisation among Dalit students. It was targetted not just against right wing forces but also the Left, which they described as "Savarna" or Upper Caste.
During the entire JNUSU campaign, BAPSA criticised the Left in these terms and it seems to have yielded dividends.
A candidate like Rahul was able to arouse a passion at a time when the fight between the Left and the Right is the most intense it has ever been on a traditionally Left JNU campus.