Updated: September 11, 2016 4:17:56 am
The ‘Left Unity’ alliance swept the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) elections on Saturday, winning all four central panel seats with comfortable margins. It was the first election held to the students’ union after its leaders were arrested on February 9 following allegations that anti-national slogans were raised inside the campus.
Mohit Pandey of the All India Students’ Association (AISA) was elected president, while Amal P P and Satarupa Chakraborty of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) were elected vice-president and secretary respectively. Tabrez Hasan, also of the AISA, was elected joint secretary.
After the results, the Left panel carried out a mock funeral procession of the ABVP, which had portrayed the elections as a referendum on the February 9 event.
“The student community has given a decisive mandate against the ‘Shut down JNU’ camp and in favour of ‘Stand with JNU’, giving us a clean sweep,” said Pandey. Interestingly, there were a significant number of NOTA votes, the highest for the post of vice-president, with 437 students opting for NOTA.
Amal and Chakraborty beat their rival ABVP candidates by 1,304 and 1,024 votes respectively, in the largest victory margins of the polls and registering the SFI’s comeback to the union after 10 years. While Chakraborty polled 2,424 votes, Amal got 2,461 votes.
Pandey got 1,954 of the total 5,181 votes polled to win the president’s post, beating Rahul Sonpimple of the BAPSA by a margin of 409 votes. For the post of joint secretary, Hassan polled 1,670 votes, 362 more than Pratim Ghoshal of the Democratic Students’ Federation, which was not a part of the Left panel.
The results marked the emergence of the fledgling Ambedkarite group, BAPSA (Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association), whose candidate performed better than the ABVP for the post of president. BAPSA also emerged third on the contest for the posts of vice-president and secretary.
Hailing the results, Kanhaiya Kumar, who won the JNUSU president’s polls last time, and is facing cases over the February 9 protests, said, “It shows that if the opposition forces unite, the RSS can be defeated.” He also said the emergence of the BAPSA as a third pole was “a healthy development for campus democracy”.
The ABVP, which had won the joint secretary’s post in the 2015 polls, claimed it didn’t see the results as a setback, as it already had a “moral victory”. “Our vote percentage has increased from last year so that is a win for us. Moreover, the fact that arch-rivals AISA and SFI had to come together against us itself shows something,” said ABVP unit secretary Lalit Pandey.
The ABVP also saw a drastic dip in its councillor posts. While the Left claimed that the RSS students’ wing had won only one post of Councillor out of the total 31, the ABVP said it had won six seats in all, in the Sanskrit Centre, School of Bio Technology, School of Computer Science and Integrated Science.
The students’ group to suffer the most, however, was the NSUI. On all posts except the president’s, it polled lesser than the total NOTA votes.
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