Shouts of “Modi” and “Lal Salaam” filled the air at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Friday as students made a beeline for the polling booths to elect a new students’ union (JNUSU).
Leaving no opportunity to convince students to vote for their representatives, students’ organisations gathered in groups outside the polling venue for last-minute campaigning.
This year, voter turnout saw a marginal dip — from 56 per cent in 2013 to 55 per cent.
“Voting began at 9.30 am and went on till 6 pm. Polling went on smoothly. Counting will begin at 10 pm on Saturday and results will be announced by Sunday evening or Monday morning,” Election Committee chairperson Dileep Kumar Maurya said.
While the polls have often been fought on ideological grounds, the harassment case against the former JNUSU president and joint-secretary (who belonged to AISA) seems to have affected the mood on the campus.
The presidential debate, conducted on Wednesday night, saw the AISA candidate being bombarded with questions on the harassment case. Some students who turned up to vote on Friday also raised the issue.
“AISA used to be very popular on the campus, but the incident which led to the resignation (of the president and joint-secretary) has dented its image. However, the alliance of three left parties, under the Left Progressive Front, is likely to make a mark in the polls,” Sneha Sinha, an MPhil student at JNU, said.
Dominated by left-leaning students’ groups for years, the university saw aggressive campaigning by right-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) this year.
“These polls are important because the change of power at the national level will be replicated on the campus this time. Students will vote for change,” Mohammad Jahidul Dewan, the ABVP vice- presidential candidate, said.