The process of counting for the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) saw high drama on Saturday, as two principal contenders of an unnamed political group along with their supporters barged into a counting centre and tried to snatch ballot boxes. Following this, counting was suspended for over 12 hours and restarted late on Saturday evening.
NDTV reported that the United Left Alliance was leading in councillor posts of some schools, while the ABVP is leading in three top posts in science schools.
Through the day, allegations and counter-allegations of violence flew thick and fast on Twitter —
Shocked! Never seen something like this in JNU. ABVP goons broke glass doors and forcibly tried to enter the #JNUSU_Election2018 counting venue last night. They attacked the members of Election Committee and tried to snatch ballot boxes. Counting suspended.
— Shehla Rashid (@Shehla_Rashid) September 15, 2018
This is leftist mob anarchy in JNU. If anyone intervenes to have same politics on campus leftist will cry take over of JNU. Alas, MSM’s deafening silence on #JNULeftGoonas is noting new to Lutyens elitist cabal. Allow counting! ABVP is confident of winning. https://t.co/HWxkEL8ZmD — Ashish Chauhan (@AshishSainram) September 15, 2018
The Election Committee (EC), assigned the task of conducting polls, said the counting resumed after the Grievance Redressal Committee appointed an observer — who happens to be a JNU professor — to be present during the counting.
Earlier, the counting was stopped at around 4 am on Saturday when some Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activists insisted on entering the counting centre and demanded a recounting of votes, accusing the EC of colluding with the Left groups and keeping them deliberately out.
The Election Committee, however, issued a statement saying it had made announcement for counting agents to come and was following the rules.
It said, "A malicious lie is being spread on social media and among students that the Election Committee had not made three announcements and went forth with the entry of the counting agents for post of Central Panel for combined schools and Special Centres."
The Election Committee would like to clearly state three announcement calls were made (with the third call announced as the last and final call) and communicated to the students gathered outside the counting venue) via loudspeaker, the committee said.
War of words during presidential debate
While rival parties made a slew of allegations against each other during the counting process, the campaign for the election also saw heated political posturing.
During the presidential debate, N Sai Balaji, the United-left panel candidate said, "Mobs are allowed to kill people and get away with it as they have the backing of the RSS and the central government, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The country has been turned into lynchistan."
"Demonetisation was a failure, there are no jobs as promised and there is a constant attack on higher education...The year started with the violence of Bhima Koregaon and we recently saw the arrests of activists and academics. This government is employing intimidating tactics. Here, the V-C is destroying the university, which the students have to reclaim," he said.
Lalit Pandey, the candidate of the right wing ABVP, alleged that there were "anti-national" elements present on the campus and promised to "fix" them if voted to the post.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal's student wing has fielded a candidate for the first time in the JNUSU elections.
Its candidate Jayant Kumar, much like the Congress-affiliated NSUI's nominee, Vikas Yadav, attacked the Centre over reducing funding for higher education, and lowering the number of seats at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and scuttling with its reservation policy.
The Birsa Ambedkar Phule Student Association's (BAPSA) presidential candidate, Thallapelli Praveen, said his party represents the voice of students from the oppressed classes on the campus.
Praveen asked students to think beyond the left and right binary.
"The Left parties say that the BAPSA should not be voted for, otherwise the ABVP will come. The ABVP is alive and among us, and that is the contribution of Left politics on campus. Don't get caught in the banner of left and right politics, and work for the oppressed," he said.
High voter turnout
The voter turnout in the keenly contested JNUSU election was 67.8 percent, believed to be the highest in six years. Over 5,000 students cast their votes.
Over 5,000 students cast their votes.
"Since 2012, the elections are being conducted as per the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations. In the last six years, I have not seen such a high voting percentage," an official said.
Last year and in 2016, the voting percentage was 59 percent. In 2015, the voting percentage was 55 percent. In 2013 and 2014, the percentage hovered around 55 percent while in 2012, the voter turnout had reached 60 percent.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Sep 15, 2018 22:59:40 IST