JNU elections 2017: Left retains dominance even as ABVP emerges as single largest party

Amid an aggressively escalating Hindutva wave across the country, the Left Unity panel comprising of AISA, SFI and DSF has, yet again, swept the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) elections, this year. The RSS-aligned Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) has managed to emerge as the second biggest force, clinching the second largest votes in all major posts on the campus. Despite being backed by the Muslim group Students Islamic Organisation (SIO), the Ambedkarite party Birsa Phule Ambedkar Students’ Association (BAPSA) was pushed to the third position in all central panel posts.

However, the Left panel’s continuing dominance at the campus could have crumbled under without the unity of its three major groups All India Students’ Association (AISA), Students’ Federation of India (SFI), and Democratic Students’ Federation (DSF). Alike last year, the right-wing ideologue ABVP has emerged as the single largest party, with 950-odd votes on average for every central post, and over 10 councilor posts at the school-level, primarily from science.

The university has witnessed a slight fall in voter turnout as the numbers went down to 56 percent this year compared to the 59 percent voter turnouts last year. Among the total of 4620 votes casted to elect the president, Geeta Kumari of AISA clinched victory with 1506 votes, leaving behind ABVP’s Nidhi Tripathi by almost 460 votes. The United Left also maintained their dominance at the vice-presidential and the general secretary’s post. While Simone Zoya Khan got elected as the vice-president with 1,876 votes, SFI’s Duggirala Srikrishna bagged the highest number of individual votes for any post, to get elected as the general secretary with 2082 votes. Also marking his victory as the highest margin of win, Srikrishnan also got the highest voting percentage out of all the central panel candidates from the school they studied in. And with 1,755 votes, DSF’s Shubhanshu Singh got elected as the joint secretary of JNUSU.

In a significant indication towards the voter dissatisfaction with the Left, other than the president’s post, JNUSU elections witnessed an increasing number of NOTA votes, this year. Among the votes casted for the vice-president and joint secretary post, NOTA votes counted to 495 and 501 respectively. Interestingly, Congress’ students’ wing, National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) could not even manage to secure more votes than NOTA in any of the posts.

The left panel has also managed to ensure its dominance in the three major schools, School of Social Sciences (SSS), School of International Studies (SIS) and School of Languages, Literature and Culture Studies (SLL&CS). However, in a major success the ABVP has managed to bag a large share of votes in SLL&CS, which has been a Left base for years. Though all the elected councilors are from the Left brigade, the right-wing ideologue has managed to reduce the margin of votes to a considerable extent.

The unique culture of the JNU politics has a major role to play in the continuing dominance of the left and progressive forces at the university campus. Unlike most universities, JNU leave least space for the interference of money and muscle power in its entire political process. And while the country keep experiencing a growing dominance of the right wing, Left groups on the JNU campus are seemingly learning from the mistakes done by Left oriented parties outside JNU and trying to implement a better representation of politics within its ranks and leadership.

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