New Delhi: A day after the Left alliance of All India Students Association (AISA) and Students Federation of India (SFI) swept the JNU students union election, students gave the February 9 incident — when protesters, including current students union President Kanhaiya Kumar, were arrested — as the prime reason for the overwhelming mandate against ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad).
“I am not happy as such that AISA has come to power, but because the ABVP has lost. And ABVP had to lose because of its role in the JNU crackdown. It is against minority, against women and has a patronising attitude towards students,” Sushil Kumar, who is doing his PhD from School of Indian Languages (SIL), told IANS.
“But AISA is not as completely honest as it claims to be. It hasn’t addressed the students’ issues in the last one year, even in the aftermath of the February 9 incident. They didn’t condemn the government actions, nor their nationalism discourse. It spoke in the government’s tone and made concessions, instead of coming out with a well-rounded rebuttal against them,” he added.
Shrimant Jainendra, another PhD student from SIL, blamed the ABVP for its defeat, and interpreted the election result as not just AISA’s victory but also the ascent of the Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA) as a rising star.
“The February 9 incident could have been dealt with at the administrative level, but the way ABVP called the media channels before the protests were to start and later termed JNU’s women students ‘prostitutes’, worked heavily against them. Students expressed their anger by voting for AISA and BAPSA,” Jainendra told IANS.
“There is disaffection against the Left too among the students. And that is clearly manifested in the robust support BAPSA got during the polls. A big section of students which hail from OBC (Other Backward Classes), SC (Scheduled Caste) section this time perceived a favourable alternative in BAPSA, as a result of which they received unexpected number of votes,” Jainendra added.
The Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association turned out to be a surprise party this elections, with its presidential candidate Sonpimple Rahul coming second to President-elect Mohit Kumar Pandey of AISA in a close contest.
A former supporter of ABVP, Dhirendra, from School of Language (SL), also accused the the BJP-affiliated party of “spreading a lot of negativity” about the JNU campus during the February crackdown.
“AISA is one of the most vibrant parties in the campus and has done a lot of hard work in the last one year for students. The mandate which they have received is completely just, while on the other hand students could’nt forget what ABVP had done during the February incident. JNU voters are very conscious of campus politics and they voted keeping all that in mind,” Dhirendra told IANS. He suggested the ABVP should engage in dialogue with the students more on their issues.
“Rahul Sonpimple of BAPSA is a very good debater, like Kanhaiya Kumar, and Left parties were a little cautious about the possibility of his winning the President’s post, just like the latter did last year. No one knew much about Jahnavi (ABVP presidential candidate); she was an unknown face in the campus,” he commented.
The Left alliance of SFI and AISA bagged the posts of President, Vice President, General Secretary and Joint Secretary in the results declared on Saturday.
The BJP-affiliated ABVP and the Congress-backed National Students Union of India (NSUI) were far behind in all four posts, while the newly-founded BAPSA gave a close fight.
The SFI, affiliated to the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), and the AISA, the student wing of the Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist (CPI-ML), formed an alliance to fight the elections.
This was the first student election in the campus since the arrest of JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar — of the CPI-backed All India Students Federation — on charges of sedition after a group of students allegedly raised anti-India slogans at an event in February.