War of words ensured there wasn’t single a dull moment during JNU’s “Presidential Debate”

Ideologies clashed, loyalties were tested and the game of “one-upmanship”, the oldest rule in the book for political survival, was as fierce and direct as it could get in the night-long “Presidential Debate” at Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Jhelum lawns in Delhi on Wednesday night.

“Reject two-faced politics of the SFI-JNU [Students’ Federation of India-Jawaharlal Nehru University] who are not present in any struggle whatsoever,” screamed All Indian Students Association (AISA) candidate Omprasad, adding they were the “true” Left and would fight for increased scholarships, more hostels and engage with the administration for a host of other issues.

“Give me your vote,” he ended to loud chanting of “We salute to comrade” and “Lal Salaam”. The other comrades, however, had their own, equally brutal fight.

“The AISA says that it is the “real” red, I tell them JNU is not a paint shop,” said SFI-JNU’s V. Lenin Kumar, who then talked in detail about his recent expulsion from the SFI after being a comrade with them for several years.

“The JNU-SFI keep talking about us as outsiders, that we imported, they are practicing [Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief] Raj Thackeray politics,” said SFI’s Kopal, before proceeding to attack the AISA in detail, the undisputed winners of JNU Students’ Union for several years.

“When we sit and talk in the mess the guard comes and tells us to get up…. When the school general body meeting was going on, classes were not cancelled…. When we want to have a function, we are told to pay to use our own convention hall….never has this happened in the history of JNU,” she added to more “Lal Salaams.

The many comrades in the audience, however, could not drown out the aggressive show from the independents and non-Left.

“Dear Comrades…,” began independent candidate Abhay Kumar, before being drowned out by hoots, beating of drums and loud cheers from the audience. “Dear Comrades,” he continued, more loudly.

“The time has come to be serious and reclaim radical politics... the AISA has been sitting in our students’ union with all four posts for all these years and has done nothing. Their presidential candidate preaches about what he is going to do in the ‘next students’ union’ …according to him the hostels will become heaven on earth if they win this election….stick with me and we can chase them out with broomsticks…stick with me and we can usher in a radical left political movement…let us chase out these Brahmin, casteist people who practise NGO politics with broomsticks.”

The hoots turned to claps and the audience reassured him that he had their votes.

“I have visited all your rooms at least four times and I know you will vote for me,” he finished, after telling the audience to reject the “fascist” Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the “confused” SFI-JNU, the “corrupt” NSUI (National Students’ Union of India) and all the other student organisations on the campus whose “spines were made of rubber.”

Lambasting the Leftist ideology was a favourite amongst the non-Left and independents.

“You are in a state of anxiety because of the Left politics here, which the entire world has rejected. I will drive away your worries,” began NSUI candidate Iqbal Singh, before examining in excruciating detail the major failures of every national political party with Leftist leanings. He ended, however, by lambasting the AISA.

“These people say they have successfully struggled for removing discrimination on the basis of language during VIVA-VOICE…how have they struggled? They say the administration has made a committee to look into the matter…tell me now…which government does not constitute a committee? What happens if a committee is constituted?” his speech was met with loud laughter and it took several minutes for the audience to calm down. There was, however, more to come.

“They do not have an ideology, they are making a mockery of Karl Marx’s teachings, and their ideology is just ‘opportunistic.’ According to these leftists, if they sit in Ganga dhaba they are more radical and if they sit in ‘twenty-four seven’ they are less radical.”

“These people read Das Kapitalhere in JNU but live commercialised lives in Bengal and Kerala,” said Campus Front of India candidate Khalid Khan.

“These people are opposed to technology and commercialisation… They do not allow companies inside the campus, so there is no campus placement and once a student graduates he has to run around for a job,” said ABVP’s Koparkar Rashmini Anil.

The caste card was played up by All India Backward Students’ Federation’s Vinay Kumar, detailed student issues were talked about by Youth for Equality’s Amit Kumar and Hindu superiority by independent candidate Sandeep Kumar.

There are 10 candidates in the fray for the post of president. The elections will be held on Friday.

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