Colourful Posters, ‘Dafli’ Beats, Catchy Slogans Set The Tone For JNU Students’ Body Polls

Colourful Posters, ‘Dafli’ Beats, Catchy Slogans Set The Tone For JNU Students’ Body Polls

The JNU students’ union polls will be held after a gap of more than four years on March 22 and the results will be declared on March 24

PTIUpdated: Tuesday, March 19, 2024, 07:38 PM IST
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The walls of the Jawaharlal Nehru University are plastered with colourful posters while the beats of traditional ‘daflis’ and catchy slogans rent the air as campaigning for the students’ body polls reaches a crescendo. The JNU students’ union polls will be held after a gap of more than four years on March 22 and the results will be declared on March 24.

With just three days left for the polling day, students, especially those casting their vote for the first time, were an excited lot. “This is my first time participating in the JNUSU elections and I am very excited. My seniors have told me that the polls are akin to the festivities surrounding a wedding,” Shorya Sood, a PhD scholar with cerebral palsy, told PTI.

“I will vote for the outfit that talks about the welfare of all students irrespective of ideological differences and particularly persons with disability in their manifesto,” he added. The students’ outfits are also holding door-to-door campaigns to woo the voters.

With the election fever gripping the university, several dhabas on the campus are doing roaring business with students, including the candidates and their supporters, thronging the eateries every evening after a hard day of campaigning. Animated conversations over a cup of tea are the norm at the renowned Sabarmati Dhaba in particular, which was witness to the 2020 JNU violence.

Dhruv Kumar, owner of the Sabarmati Dhaba said, “This election is nothing like before. There’s more energy and enthusiasm among the people as the polls are happening after four years. The business is booming as students gather here daily after campaigning.” The United Left alliance comprising the All India Students’ Association (AISA), Democratic Students’ Federation (DSF), Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and the All India Students’ Federation (AISF) is eyeing a clean sweep like the 2019 polls. “Left has had a legacy in JNU. We have been fighting for the rights of students from the very beginning. Be it the issue of women’s security on campus, fee hikes, scholarship cuts, or infrastructural issues, the Left has always stood for the concerns of students,” Dhananjay, the United Left’s presidential candidate from AISA said.

Meanwhile, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad is preparing to give a tough competition to the United Left alliance and hopes to form a students’ union led by the right-wing students group in the Left bastion. “The dictatorship of the Left has long prevailed on the JNU campus. They have not done any developmental work and only indulged in politics ruining the reputation of the institute. We want to end this dictatorial rule and work for the students,” ABVP’s presidential candidate, Umesh Chandra Ajmeera, said.

ABVP last won the JNUSU presidential election in 2000. Ever since the party has not been able to gain a foothold in the central panel of the JNUSU. Other student outfits such as the Congress-affiliated National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA), and Samajwadi Chatra Sangathan (SCS) are also campaigning extensively to position themselves as a viable alternative to the traditional left-right students’ bodies.

SCS is the only outfit which has fielded a female candidate, Aradhna Yadav, for the post of president this year. Speaking to PTI, Yadav said, “For us women’s security and their representation on the campus is the main focus. JNU has many women coming from economically backward and marginalised communities. If I am elected as the president, I will become their voice.” BAPSA’s presidential candidate, Biswajit Minji is the first scholar from his village in West Bengal. Minji belongs to an Adivasi community and his parents work as contractual labourers.

“For long, other parties such as the ABVP or the Left have used us as vote bank politics. It is high time that issues of marginally backward groups be represented by members of the same community who actually know their struggle,” Minji said. The Congress’ students’ outfit has fielded only two candidates for the central panel — president and joint secretary — and is hoping to make a mark.

Junaid Raza, NSUI’s presidential candidate said, “Our focus is to end the politics of both the ABVP and the Left and provide a peaceful environment to students. We want to build an inclusive campus.” The JNUSU elections were stalled amid the COVID-19 pandemic and could not be conducted thereafter.

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