The September month holds significance for Students Union
elections in India. It is because most Indian universities have to
undergo their election process for students bodies within the
specified period which is the month of September. The reason for
this is the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations according to
which the, “entire process of elections, commencing from the date
of filing of nomination papers to the date of declaration of
results, including the campaign period, should not exceed 10 days”.
It further specified that ‘elections should be held between 6 to 8
weeks from the date of commencement of the academic session’, which
begins in July for most Indian universities.
As is the case, Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union
(JNUSU) elections draw an expected interest and scrutiny at large.
The fight no doubt is between major contenders which include Akhil
Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), All India Students Association
(AISA) and Students Federation of India (SFI). Congress students
wing National Students Union of India (NSUI) remains a
‘non-existent force’ in JNU for long while the other left leaning
radical groups enjoy ‘political holiday’ remaining largely ‘non
functional’ among students during academic season.
There was a time when the ‘political atmosphere’ of the JNU
was dominated by the communists. Remember, since its inception
during the 1970s, JNU has been a left-leaning campus. However there
are signs of things heading towards a change. Interestingly, the
emergence of radical left wing AISA in JNU brought a paradigm shift
in campus politics and its direction. In past many years the
incidents like celebration of the attack on CRPF camp, which killed
72 Indian soldiers, mourning the deaths of Afzal Guru and Yakub
Memon, supporting demands of secessionist tendencies in North-East
India etc are some examples how left politics is ‘dreadful of
Moreover, other left groups have been engaged in organization
of ‘Mahisasur Diwas’ on fault lines of history and celebration of
‘beef festival’ just to flare up the campus politics towards
confrontation and conflict. Basically, these anti-nationalist
agenda has been a political strategy of left students groups to
confuse the JNU student community and go beyond their mandate.
In addition, the February 9 incident of raising ‘Anti-India
slogans’ will remain a ‘black dot’ on the character of left
politics in JNU and it still surrounds the mind of student
community of their ‘collective complicity’ against Indian
Also, the consistent ‘politics of protests’ has brought the
JNU administration at heels once causing the JNU Vice Chancellor to
run away from an academic council meet. Basically, all these
attribute to their ‘poor sense of wisdom and intellect’ which is
based on their pre-conceived notions and ideas. The radical left in
JNU has ‘lost the intellectual vigor and honesty’ to raise real
issues concerning the larger student community.
On the other hand, nationalist students movements led by ABVP
has made serious breakthrough in JNUSU politics. This reflects in
an electoral success of winning one post in central panel and with
more than a dozen councilors in last year JNUSU elections by ABVP.
Moreover, the successful protests of these groups on issues like
scrapping of Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT) in UPSC exams,
revision of research scholarships, allowing maternity benefits to
girl research scholars etc have benefitted the student community at
The other nationalist student groups like My Home India and
World Organization of Students Youth (WOSY) have been able to make
‘positive impression’ by their work and activities amongst
North-East and international students in JNU. Even Swadeshi
Movement has found space in campus by holding academic discussions
on labour reforms, economic globalization and GST issues. All this
has contributed to consolidation of ‘nationalist force and
strength’ within JNU community. In addition, the celebrations of
‘Durga Pooja’ and marking of ‘International Yoga day’ remain hugely
attended events in the campus with positive signs of change in
On contrary, nothing is going in favor for the left in JNU.
The recent incident of rape and subsequent filing of FIR against an
AISA leader raises serious questions about leftist commitments on
‘gender justice and freedom’. All this has brought bad name to the
institution and its politics. In a latest move, JNU administration
has barred 16 of 21 JNU students to vote in JNUSU elections who
were found guilty by the university-appointed enquiry committee in
connection with the February 9 incident. Most of them belong to the
left group including former JNUSU general Secretary.
All this has contributed to the decline of left politics in
campus and their probable defeat in upcoming JNUSU 2016 elections.
This has also been substantiated by the realities of ‘competitive
age’ and ‘employment concerns’ which has made the radical forces
and their ‘disruptive agenda’ almost irrelevant amongst students.
The left groups in JNU have no answers on the question of better
hostel facilities, campus Wi-Fi, metro feeder services, better
library facilities etc. Even their politics places less concern for
development agenda of student community.
Elections to the JNUSU body have traditionally been a contest
between the mainstream-Left and the far-Left parties. However, in
the given context, for the first time that entire left movement
stands at back-foot in electoral battle in JNU. Even the alliance
between AISA and SFI reflects nothing but an ‘electoral
opportunism’ due to loss of students faith in both of them.
In such a time of distress, the new call for ‘greater left
unity’ in JNU is nothing but a proof of ‘sheer opportunism’ by left
groups in campus. It would have been much better if collective
unity has been for students’ rights and interests.
In the current scenario, the mood in campus seems to be
looking at a ‘paradigm shift’ in terms of leadership and ideas in
the coming JNUSU elections. The students seem more likely to choose
‘development over distortions’ led by nationalist forces under the
banner of ABVP.