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All India Students’ Association-Students’ Federation of India (AISA-SFI) Panel: MOHIT K PANDEY
PhD student, Centre for Media Studies (School of Social Sciences)
Hailing from Lakhimpur Kheri in UP, Pandey has studied in various parts of the country, getting exposure to student issues and movements. After doing his BA in Mass Communication from Lucknow University, he moved to Bhopal for post-graduation. “Bhopal at that time was a hotbed of various socio-political movements… It was here that I first got involved with the All India Forum for Right to Education (affiliated with the CPI-ML),” says Pandey.
The association grew once he went to University of Hyderabad for MPhil, and so did his inclination towards the Ambedkarite movement. “I was a sympathiser of the Ambedkar Students’ Association initially but got introduced to AISA activists when they came to campaign against the Lyngdoh Committee Recommendations. That association continues,” he says.
In the elections, he says his focus will be on issues of social justice such as implementing reservations in direct PhD courses, as well as strengthening the Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment.
Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA): SONPIMPLE RAHUL PUNARAM
MPhil student, Centre for the Study of Social Systems
Sonpimple became political early in life. Son of a construction worker mother from a slum in Nagpur, he washed dishes in hotels as a Class VII student to support his family after his father, a rickshaw-puller, passed away. Yet, it was the Khairlanji massacre of 2006 that had a major impact on his life. “My mother would take me to meetings and events after the incident and I realised then there was something called caste discrimination,” he says. Later, he became involved with the Ambedkarite movement, and during his graduation in Sociology from Nagpur, he formed an organisation called the Youth for Self & Social Change with friends. His political activity grew as an MA student of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and he came in contact with the United Dalit Students’ Front of JNU.
His agenda is to reduce viva-voce marks and implement deprivation points for Muslims, among other issues. “I also want there to be an oppressed unity of Dalits, Adivasis, and women… and people from the North East and Kashmir.”
Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP): JANHAWI OJHA
PhD student, Parasitology (School of Life Sciences)
Born in Chhapra, Bihar, Ojha has done her BSc and MSc from Banaras Hindu University. The daughter of the late area manager of Birla Group and a homemaker mother, Ojha said she always identified with the ideology of the ABVP despite coming from an apolitical background. “In Varanasi, I was an ABVP sympathiser, but became an activist only in 2012 when I joined JNU. It was here that I realised the importance of my ideology when I saw the pseudo-feminism and pseudo-secularism of people on the campus,” she says.
Despite being the cultural secretary of the ABVP JNU unit, Ojha says she never had any interest in contesting elections, until the February 9 incident that is. “The anti-national slogans of February 9 and then the rape incident by the AISA leader was the final spark for me. That is when I knew I would contest these elections to defeat such people,” she says.
On her agenda is the struggle to strengthen GSCASH and make JNU a complete WiFi zone.
National Students’ Union of India (NSUI): SUNNY DHIMAN
PhD student, Centre for Studies in Science Policy
Hailing from Muzaffarnagar in UP, Dhiman was initially associated with the Left-wing AISF in JNU. “I have always stood for centre-left politics and I thought AISF was the right organisation for that. However, because of some personal differences with Kanhaiya, I left the AISF in a huff and joined NSUI,” says Dhiman, who has done his graduation from Muzaffarnagar and his post-graduation from Gautam Buddha University in Noida.
It was here that he came in touch with Ambedkarite thoughts and turned Buddhist. “My father worked as daily wage courier so I have always been against status quo. Coming from a lower class OBC community, I have seen the struggles first hand,” he says.
Dhiman was the only man to contest the GSCASH elections in 2013 from AISF, although unsuccessfully. He hopes to carve a Left space in the NSUI. “The campus needs a centre-left union, because I believe extreme Left feeds the extreme Right. As far as the elections go, my agenda is the defeat of RSS and its ideology. In terms of concrete measures, my focus would be on solving the hostel crisis,” he says.
Students’ Front for Swaraj (SFS): DILEEP KUMAR
PhD student, Hindi translation (School of Languages)
Born in Jaunpur, UP, Kumar’s activism began as a BA student of Allahabad University. From ensuring proper distribution of scholarships to demanding wages for karamcharis, Kumar campaigned for a range of issues, but says he was never affiliated with any organisation. He joined JNU as an MA student of Sanskrit in 2011, and his first political affiliation was the AAP’s student wing CYSS. “We joined the organisation because we were influenced by the idea of a new alternative politics, and were inspired by Anand Kumar (JNU professor) and Yogendra Yadav’s ideas. We were the ones who built the CYSS here but after their expulsion, we all left. Once the Swaraj Abhiyan was launched, Students’ Front for Swaraj (SFS) was founded and roughly half of the CYSS JNU unit joined the SFS.”
Kumar is the outgoing councillor of the School of Languages as well as the former president of his hostel. “Our main agenda is to defy the Lyngdoh Committee Recommendations, as well as ensure implementation of minority deprivation points,” he says.