Fissured ground after a flood: JNU Students Union election results and their implications

The Left Alliance of AISA-SFI won all the Central Panel seats in JNU. They out-organised (by far at the Councilor level) everybody else with sheer political machinery, hard campaigning and determination.

Saib Bilaval September 11, 2016 10:55:14 IST
Fissured ground after a flood: JNU Students Union election results and their implications

The Left Alliance of AISA-SFI won all the Central Panel seats in JNU. They out-organised (by far at the Councilor level) everybody else with sheer political machinery, hard campaigning and determination.

There were only two political heavyweights contesting this time: Satarupa Chakraborty and Pratim Ghosal, and for me, it had been in an easy decision to vote for them — having been visible and credible student leaders for the past few years.

The alliance bagged 1800 votes on average (1500-2300), the total lower than the usual 900 that the SFI used to get and the 1200 AISA got till two years back. The ABVP got the 1000 central panel level votes it always gets — even as it got completely decimated at the Science school council levels (which it used to win uncontested).

The absence of AISF and DSF (contesting zero and one central panel post, respectively) did not witness an unconditional mandate to the politics of the Left alliance and the record of its constituents.

Fissured ground after a flood JNU Students Union election results and their implications

The debate (and slander) itself had escalated to a level beyond what any of the numbers could have shown — and the trend of broadly supporting the Left alliance while differing on some posts being the second most popular voting choice clearly demonstrates that. Each of the discourses shall live on, with BAPSA substantial boosted beyond its initial weight within a short period of time.

What was certainly most remarkable was the terrible loss of every single councilor seat in the Science schools that were the monopoly of the ABVP and the backbone of its base. The unprecedented nature of this certainly lends a lot of the credit to the science students themselves, as much as the non-ABVP candidates.

The performance of BAPSA candidate Rahul Sonpimple and DSF candidate Pratim Ghosal, the close margins in the two races, for the post of President and Joint Secretary respectively (and absolutely without the diversion of ABVP vote as the alliance had alleged), sent a strong and resounding message to the political establishment of the campus Left. The moral victories belonged to the runners up here, whose voters showed the alliance that politics as usual would be unacceptable, moving forward.

Though the results were also a step-up for the SFI, the alliance as a whole would still have to confront the issues of the anti-AISA establishment sentiments of a large section of the non-right voters, as well as the caste discontent that has been building up due to lived experience, discrimination and self-respect even under the shade of Left student unions, which the phenomenal level of votes Rahul Sonpimple received as Presidential candidate demonstrated. The birth of BAPSA came from the perceived inability of the Left in the eyes of students of SC/ST communities to deal with their issues — and not as a reaction to the BJP victory in 2014 and ABVP Joint-Sec victory in 2015 like the Left Alliance is. The backdrop, to BAPSA, an organisation around two years old, has not changed.

While the right stays sorely rejected, if only on this campus — the prospect of saffron authoritarianism outside and factionalism inside continues to loom large.

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