JNU presidential debate started big, trickled down to minor issues

  • Shradha Chettri, None, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 10, 2015 16:32 IST
File photo of JNU administrative building. (Ajay Aggarwal/HT file photo)

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) presidential debate to everyone is about the larger political and social issues concerning the country and the rest of the world.

The presidential debate held at the campus on Wednesday night retained that uniqueness, but many of the speeches ultimately trickled to micro issues concerning the university and the students.

When talking about the larger issue the left-leaning student bodies which dominate the JNU campus criticised the Narendra Modi government, its policies, the killings of Govind Pansare and M Karlburgi and even the Vyapam scam.

The student bodies also criticised Modi government for slashing education fund and introducing policies that undermine religious minorities.

Along with other left-leaning bodies, National Students Union of India (NSUI) criticised the central government for their ordinance on Land Acquisition Bill.

As NSUI-- student wing of the Congress has fielded a Muslim candidate, Masood Ahmed put in strong words his sentiments-- "Government has tried to undermine Muslims in India but I want to tell them that Muslims are not Indian by chance."

Then as the candidates shifted their focus to campus issues, mostly it was a jibe at the earlier union led by All India Students Association (AISA) and their inability to fulfill promises of building new hostels.

"In 2012 AISA had promised that they will make sure 7 hostels are built and again in 2013 they promised of two more hostels but so far nothing has happened. Whatever they say is a lie. So we need a union now that knows the path of resistance and concilitation," said Paritosh Nath, Students Federation of India (SFI) president candidate for JNUSU.

As Nath talked about the need to remember sacrifices made by the SFI's cadre and it being the right one to practice having alternative politics, its splinter group Democratic Students Federation (DSF) was quick to take a jibe at them.

"AISA's politics is like a dialogue in movie Sholay--'so ja beta nahin toh gabbar ayega', as they say vote for us or ABVP will win election, if SFI has to say something they will ask us to go back to their achievements of 1970," said K Fayaz of DSF with the audience bursting into laughter.

All India Students Federation (AISF) candidate Kanhaiya Kumar criticised AISA of breaking the left unity and practising sectarian politics.

Kanhaiya was certainly the show stealer. As he started making his point the crowd grew silent and rows of clapping followed as he talked about fighting the Lyngdoh committee, challenging the religious hegemony and the need to fight for left unity.

While in a campus dominated by left bodies, the ABVP candidate, Gaurav Kumar Jha tried to justify the ideology of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and called for uniform civil code. As he made his speech the crowd jeered at him calling "Feku".

With only two disruptions due to technical faults, the night long presidential debate had a lot of singing, beating of hand drums and continous shouting of "Lal Salam".

For a short while there was even small verbal fight between supporters of NSUI and ABVP but the members of JNU election commission controlled them.

The presidential debate is the last leg before the university votes for a new student body on September 11.

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