Unkept promises were “out in the open,” malicious motives behind “intentional” failures were “exposed” and self-achievements were painstakingly detailed in the traditional war of words fought by the presidential candidates of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union in the Jhelum lawns on Wednesday night.
“We had a dream…,” began Democratic Students’ Federation candidate Ishan Anand, before being drowned out by loud jeers from the audience, with drum beats and screaming being the loudest from where arch rivals, the Students’ Federation of India and the All-India Students’ Association, had occupied prime seats.
“We were a minority in the JNUSU last year and the AISA was a majority and they took credit for anything good that happened to the union and blamed anything bad or the failures on Lenin (president of the dissolved union)…and they were practising sectarian politics by taking out protests under their own banner, I have some advice for them…work with integrity,” he said, before proceeding to accuse the National Students’ Union of India of distributing biryani to get votes. “There is only one thing which all of us need to do right now, put the NSUI inside the dustbin, the big one near Ganga Dhaba,” he said, to loud cheers from everywhere except the place occupied by the NSUI.
“Last year, there was a movement made by a group of students concerning food, they wanted to organise a beef and pork festival against discrimination faced by the consumers of this food. What did the radical Left do? They took the wind out of it, they took an ambiguous position and made fun of these people,” said NSUI candidate Pran Veer Singh.
“Stop fooling yourselves, the fight everywhere even in Egypt is for democracy not communism. These people accuse us of distributing biryani to get votes, but they intentionally fail in their struggles to maintain crises so that they can get some votes. This is elite politics that you are practicing, middle class families and students need the State, welfare politics will come and Left deficiency will go…if anyone needs to be kicked out of campus it is the AISA…lets all grab them by the ears and throw them out of the campus,” he ended to loud cheers.
“The DSF were talking about dreams, it is only natural since they have spent the last one year only dreaming,” said SFI’s Rahul. N, accusing the union of starting their struggle against the insufficient increase in merit-cum–means scholarship only days before the election even though they knew about it a month ahead.
AISA’s Akbar Choudhry said he did not want to malign anyone. “We have been struggling for removing discrimination on the basis of language during VIVA-VOICE but there is a teachers’ lobby against this and that is why it is proving to be difficult, and these teachers support the DSF,” he said, while taking credit for the institution of the JNU press which will publish research from students. “When people are in trouble, that is when the AISA will come to their rescue,” he ended.
“Vande Mataram,” started Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parsihad candidate Alok Kumar Singh, before starting a rant on the “imported” ideology of the Left. The ABVP’s ethos stemmed from the ideals of national leaders like Bhagat Singh, Mahatma Gandhi and Subash Chandra Bose whereas the left had Chairman Mao from China, even their issues were imported, he said.
“Talk about student centric issues, like how we don’t get placements here, instead of talking about the issues concerning Russia, Syria, Pakistan and umpteen other countries…at the end of the day students come here to study because they want jobs,” he said. “Go on screaming, that’s all you are capable of doing anyway,” he said, when the majority of the audience started to boo him down.
Kazakhstan student Akhmetrbekov Zhassulan, who has aligned himself with the Chatra Janata Dal, spoke with the help of his nervous translator who managed to convey that he was against democracy in principal because of the experiences of his country but that he would not talk about outside issues but what he would do once he was JNUSU president which included free English classes for foreign students like him, who could not communicate with others.
Concerned Students’ candidate Chandrasen sarcastically asked the dissolved union members and the other Left activists to “go blow conch shell with Anna Hazare,” while accusing them of being hypocritical State agents, while All-India Students’ Federation candidate Amrita Kumari accused the AISA of betraying the JNU community by forcing them, through underhand means, to agreeing to elections through Lyngdoh Committee recommendations.