Most presidential candidates for the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union elections chose to highlight the failures of the previous ruling union on Thursday while those from the outgoing union preferred to list their successes. They presented their agendas before the election commission and the media at the students’ union office.
The Democratic Students’ Federation, the group that broke away from the CPI (M)-affiliated Students’ Federation of India and won the position of president in last year’s election, has fielded Ishan Anand. He defended the union strongly saying they had taken their fight to the streets whether it was the struggle to enhance Merit-cum-Means scholarships or the protests outside the university by the union for justice post-December 16 gang-rape incident. “JNU is not an island,” he concluded.
The All India Students’ Association, which clinched the other three posts in the union last year, has fielded Akbar Choudhry, who claimed credit for the JNU Press, which will be tying up with international journals for the publication of students’ research. He, too, said the fight was not just in the university and cited examples of their organisation’s participation for the fight against Delhi University’s new four-year undergraduate programme.
A notable mention was independent candidate Akhmetbekov Zhassulan, who is a foreign student from Kazakhstan. He said that when he first came to JNU, a hostel seat was not waiting for him as promised and he was allotted a seat only after two days, due to which he faced a lot of trouble. Another issue was that a friend of his from Belarus came to the university to study Sanskrit but the professors only taught in Hindi. He had to finally leave the university because of this.
“I know even the Indian students face accommodation issues, and if I am voted I intend to fight for both these issues,” Zhassulan, who cannot speak English, said with the help of a translator.
All India Students’ Federation candidate Amrita Kumari promised to bring back the tradition of “debate” that had deteriorated over the years, while the National Students’ Union of India’s Pran Veer Singh said the time has come to question whether Left politics in JNU was good enough. Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad’s Alok Kumar Singh accused the previous JNUSU of not keeping its promises to ensure hostel accommodation for everyone. Concerned Students, a new group fielded Chandrasen. He accused the JNUSU of just keeping files and forming committees and doing little else.