Fourteen candidates, including three women, are in the fray for the four posts in the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union polls this time.
The United Left, which comprises All India Students’ Association (AISA), Students’ Federation of India (SFI), Democratic Students’ Federation (DSF) and All India Students’ Federation (AISF), will be contesting on all the four posts of president, vice president, general secretary and joint secretary.
The RSS-affiliated Abkhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) has also fielded candidates for all the posts, while the Congress-affiliated National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) has fielded a candidate for the president’s post.
The Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA) is contesting for posts of president and general secretary, while the Chhatra Rashtriya Janata Dal, students’ wing of the RJD, will be contesting for the posts of president and vice president.
Independent candidate Raghavendra Mishra who dresses up in saffron robes is also contesting for the post of president.
At a press conference in the university, the presidential candidates spoke about the agenda of their parties in the September 6 polls.
While the candidates talked about issues pertinent to the university, they also raked up national issues like the Unnao rape case, abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and the Kathua gang rape case.
Aishe Ghosh from the SFI, who is contesting for the post of president, alleged that marginalised communities are being attacked, while the rape accused are shielded by the government.
“We have always promoted the culture of debate but last year the Election Committee was attacked which happened for the first time. The entire state machinery is after JNU,” she said.
Ghosh alleged that university is spending crores of rupees on building statues while there is a dearth of facilities for engineering and management students, who are being charged exorbitant fees.
She said their demand is for hostels for all students and they will set up sanitary pad vending machines in the campus.
The SFI candidate also raked up the issue of the missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed in her speech.
AISA’s Satish Chandra Yadav is contesting the post of JNUSU general secretary in the Left Unity, with SFI on the president’s post, and DSF’s Saket Moon on VP and AISF’s Mohammad Danish on JS posts.
ABVP’s presidential candidate Manish Jangid took a dig at the Left unity students’ union and said they could not even get themselves notified.
“While the entire country rejoiced the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, the tukde-tukde gang was immersed in sadness. When one of our candidates was elected in 2015, we ensured that placement cell was made and got a fund of Rs 91 crore from the DONER Ministry. This time, we want to raise the demand for having sports quota in admission, access to libraries and new hostels for students,” he said.
Jangid also stressed on the need for a new campus for engineering and management students.
From the right-wing outfit, Shruti Agnihotri is contesting for the post of vice president, Sabareesh PA is in fray for the post of general secretary, while Sumanta Kumar Sahu is contesting for the post of joint secretary.
Jitendra Suna of BAPSA said his party is against fascism and accused the ABVP of “committing institutional murder of Rohith Vemula”.
“Is this Ram rajya that Dalits do not have right to education and the women are not safe. The Left indulges in politics of binary,” he said.
Priyanka Bharti of the Chhatra RJD, who is contesting for the post of president said, “If the Left unity had protested against the online exams, how was it possible that it was implemented? Menstruation is a year-long issue but the Left only remembers it at the time of elections. The government raises slogans of Bharat Mata Ki Jai but what about the rapes happening with the women?”
She said the government brought major changes overnight—abrogation of provisions of Article 370 in Kashmir and the 10 per cent reservation for economically weaker sections—but the marginalised communities are being “denied” opportunities.
Chhatra RJD’s Rishipal Yadav, who is visually challenged, is contesting for the post of vice president.
NSUI’s Prashant Kumar claimed that the academic autonomy is under attack and his party will be the voice for all the students.
He said his party will work towards reclaiming walls and democratic spaces, and demanded that culture and sports secretaries be there in the varsity.
Kumar said the NSUI will be supporting candidates from the BAPSA and the CRJD on other posts.
Independent candidate Raghavendra Mishra said if elected, he will remove the picture of Marx from the students’ union office and put up pictures of V D Savarkar, K B Hedgewar and also stressed on the need for having a statue of Goddess Saraswati in the campus.
“JNU is modern gurukul and every state in India should have a place like JNU where students should be taught about Indian traditions, its culture and the about Sikh gurus,” he said.