Debate, public speech and mud-slinging flag off the race

Debate, public speech and the obligatory mud-slinging flagged off the race for the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union here on Wednesday, with a total of 123 candidates in the fray to contest the posts of president, vice-president, secretary and joint secretary as well as the councillors for each JNU school. Each of the 10 presidential candidates along with a spokesperson from their group were given a total of eight minutes to outline their agendas, which sometimes overlapped or spiralled into a blame-game of sorts, with the last elected union and other Left-affiliated organisations as favourite targets.“Everybody keeps talking about problems, but do not offer any solutions except us,” claimed Youth for Equality, while NSUI presidential candidate Murad Khan claimed credit for the introduction of wi-fi Internet in the university and better placement opportunities for poor students and said: “Everybody just made speeches, but we have addressed real issues”

The Left- affiliated Students' Federation of India promised to address infrastructural and institutional problems like increase in mess fees and the lack of increase in scholarships while appealing to all to shun capitalism as it had failed the nation as well. “We have always fought against injustice and oppression, if the students' union should march forward, then a credible Left is what is needed,” said SFI's Roshan Kishore.The caste card was also played up by a few parties. “There was such a hue and cry when a move was made to get rid of the dogs on the campus which have bitten around 150 humans. But, when Dalits are getting burned alive in some parts of the country, nobody seems to care,” said Bahujan Students' Front candidate Dinesh Ahirwar. Naxalism was also a favourite topic. “We will not stand for support to Naxalism here,” said ABVP's Saket Bahuguna, while independent candidate Javed Iqbal Wani chose to play up his Kashmiri antecedents. “The introduction of elections according to the Lyngdoh committee recommendations is equal to theArmed Forces(SpecialPowers)Act in Kashmir, we have lost our freedom and I have lost my belief in the Left parties here.”

A differently-abled candidate, Akshansh Gupta spoke about the barriers that a physically-handicapped student encounters in the university.

“We have a history of 20 years in the university, we will work towards cultivating this legacy by working on a host of issues like insisting on 15 per cent marks for viva instead of the present 30 per cent to prevent discrimination on the basis of language and caste and will insist on vernacular translation of textbooks so that outsiders are not alienated in the university,” said Sucheta De, presidential candidate of AISA which swept all four seats in the last election.

Keywords: JNU poll fray

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