The iconic JNU unit of the Students Federation of India — the organisation where senior leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) such as Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury once cut their political teeth — was dissolved by its parent body on Tuesday as discontent over the CPI(M)’s support for the “neo-liberal” Pranab Mukherjee as President continues to roil the Left.

At a meeting called to discuss the Jawaharlal Nehru University unit’s decision to oppose the CPI(M)’s support for Mr. Mukherjee, the SFI Delhi State Committee dissolved the body and expelled four of its members, who represented the university, for reportedly indulging in anti-organisational activities and violating its line on national issues.

In a sign of more trouble to come for the Left party, SFI Delhi State secretary Robert Rehman Raman resigned in protest against the decision. Last month, Prasenjit Bose, the CPI(M)’s main spokesman on television, quit the party over the Mukherjee issue.

The JNU unit has said the decision “smacks of an authoritarian, undemocratic and vindictive attitude.” “The All-India leadership seems to be under the misconception that by targeting a few individuals they will be able to browbeat the entire unit and divert attention from the relevant political issues. They are taking the collective political consciousness and organisational unity in the SFI-JNU unit for granted,” it said in a statement.

Last week, the SFI-JNU unit expressed its “deep concern” on the issue of supporting Mr. Mukherjee.

Tuesday’s meeting of the SFI Delhi Committee passed a resolution, by a margin of four votes, in favour of expelling Roshan Kishore, P.K.Anand, Zico Dasgupta and V. Lenin Kumar. They were also charged with indiscipline. Later, Mr. Raman, who is on study leave, announced his resignation to protest the decision he termed high-handed and undemocratic.

The decision is nothing but a mockery of democratic processes as laid down in the SFI Constitution and a grave assault on the independent and progressive character of a student organisation like the SFI, said a statement issued by JNU unit secretary Arjun, president Anagha and other members.

Pointing out that the SFI-JNU had not indulged in any anti-SFI activity, the statement said the political position against the party’s support to Mr. Mukherjee was adopted transparently and democratically, after a meeting of the executive committee and the general body.

The JNU unit said it would stand by the principled political positions it has adopted in the general body meeting and would carry forward the legacy of study and struggle. “We also appeal to all progressive-democratic sections of the student community to unite against authoritarian attempts to throttle political debates, which would corrode the legacy of the progressive student movement in the country.”

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