The palpable high of politics was difficult to ignore at the presidential debate held on Tuesday night that climaxed campaigning for the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) elections. Loud drums, cups of steaming hot tea, woollen caps and more than the usual dose of lung power -- all the trademarks which make the elections on this campus different -- were there in plenty.
With supporters coming out in full strength and competing with each other in shouting slogans, clapping and hooting at the "right" moments, it was all about the celebration of student power. Probably the most awaited moment of the election campaign, the debate saw the presidential candidates of all the parties use their oratory skills to woo potential voters and convince their faithful followers that they are indeed believers in the right ideology.
"All those looking for an election model can think of JNUSU elections as one. There are no glossy printed papers; there are only long sessions of political debate. It is full of colour and music,'' said the election committee chairperson Netajee Abhinandan.
It was really a session of long political debates with 11 presidential candidates making their speeches. With the debate providing the final pitch for all candidates before polling takes place on Thursday, the future presidents of JNUSU do not confine their speeches to the campus alone.
From the death sentence for Saddam Hussein to Afzal's hanging, the war in Lebanon, India's vote against Iran and the imperialism of America, the candidates made it known that they may be fighting for space in the students' union, but out here at JNU it is the world view that matters.
"The Students' Federation of India (SFI) and the All India Students' Association (AISA) have been involved with anti-student policies. They signed an agreement with the JNU administration that said residents would not be entitled to a single-seater. They all go on hunger strike before the elections and all those who have been on hunger strike are now contesting elections," charged Amit Singh, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) presidential candidate.
While the performance of the JNUSU might have been the target of the ABVP speech, the SFI candidate concentrated on the gains made by the Left on the national political scene in his speech. And future promises of course.
"We will ensure that no student on this campus will have to leave due to lack of funds," promised Dhananjay Tripathi.
As the debate continued late into the night, the last two speakers to make their point were Awadesh of AISA and Sonika Tyagi of Youth for Equality. With polling slated for Thursday, it remains to be seen who will finally get the political throne.
Aligarh Muslim University held an international seminar on "Sir Syed: His Mission and Vision" recently. The seminar brought together eminent people to speak on the vision of the founder.
The chief guest on the occasion was the Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, Hamid Ansari.
The Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, Prof. Mushirul Hasan, in his keynote address said that Sir Syed was surrounded by inventive people who gave strength to his mission. "Although there were differences in emphasis, his associates, Zakaullah, Nazir Ahmad and others, planted the seeds of a pluralist vision that could eventually become a touchstone of a liberal and secular polity," he noted.
-- Mandira Nayar