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JNUSU poll results likely today as counting resumes after 14-hour standoff

The Election Committee (EC) assigned the task of conducting polls said the counting resumed after the Grievance Redressal Committee appointed an observer -- who happens to be a JNU Professor -- to be present during the counting.

delhi Updated: Sep 16, 2018 08:18 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
JNUSU,JNU polls,Jawaharlal Nehru university
Jawaharlal Nehru University students wait to place their votes during the students' union polls, in New Delhi.(PTI Photo)

The results of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) election, the counting for which had been suspended for over 14 hours on Saturday after some leaders accused the RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) of breaking into the counting centre and manhandling election committee members, is likely to be announced today, news agency ANI reported.

The ABVP, meanwhile, claimed the counting had started without its agent being present.

Reports of scuffles and skirmishes continued throughout the day and till late into the night as the counting went on.

The standoff began at 4am on Saturday when results for councillors’ posts in the Schools of Sciences were announced. Rival student groups alleged that ABVP members, led by their president and joint secretary candidates Lalit Pandey and Venkat Chaubey, allegedly broke the door and barged into the School of International Studies (SIS-I) building — the venue of the counting centre.

The JNU election committee, without naming any party, issued a statement saying that the forcible entry by “some persons” into the counting venue and attempts to snatch away sealed ballot boxes as well as ballot papers from counting centres, forced it to stop the counting. “This was in addition to intimidation and violence on our Election Committee (EC), including on our female members led by a presidential and a joint secretary candidate.”

The ABVP, however, accused the election committee of being “hand-in-glove” with the party’s rival faction — Left unity, a coalition of All India Students Association (AISA), Students Federation of India (SFI), All India
Students Federation (AISF) and Democratic Students Federation (DSF).

“EC members broke the seal of ballot box of School of Sciences in absence of the ABVP counting agent. And when we objected to the EC’s bias, they were manhandled by the members from the Left organisations,” said Saurabh Sharma, member, ABVP central committee. “We went to meet the EC members to ask why our representative was not invited. And, in the meantime, some Left members there started creating ruckus,” Sharma said.

EC members, on the other hand, claimed that ABVP counting agents did not turn up despite the mandated three calls. As per norms, EC is supposed to issue three calls to invite counting agents of all the candidates before opening the seal of ballot box.

“A malicious lie is being spread on social media and among students that the EC had not made three announcements and went forth with the entry of the counting agents ... The EC would like to clearly state that three announcement calls were made (with the third call announced as the last and final call) and communicated to the students gathered outside the SIS-I building (counting venue) via loudspeaker,” said EC chairperson Himanshu Kulshrestha.

Calling it a “black day in JNU’s history”, the other 11 active student parties at JNU, including the Left unity, issued a joint statement claiming ABVP had disrupted the counting. These 11 students’ groups, which had issued the joint statement, demanded an apology from ABVP.

Members from both ABVP and Left parties remained gathered outside the counting centre throughout the day. The deadlock outside the SIS building continued till 3pm, when the two factions agreed to hold a meeting of the members of university’s Grievance Redressal Cell (GRC).

In the meantime, the Left parties alleged that a group of ABVP supporters allegedly roughed up some of their members, including women. Similar allegations were made by the ABVP. Lalit Pandey, the ABVP presidential candidate, claimed one of his party members fractured his arm during the alleged altercation.

At about 3pm, after a meeting with the GRC members, all the student parties agreed to break the deadlock and the vote counting resumed at around 6:30pm for the JNU’s School of Sciences.

“It has been decided that the counting will resume in the presence of two GRC and EC-approved faculty members as observers,” the EC said.

The counting for the elections, which witnessed a record turnout of 67.8 % on Friday, was supposed be completed by Saturday night and the results were scheduled for Sunday morning. Officials said results will now likely be announced by Sunday evening.

Meanwhile, a journalist working for an online portal alleged he was roughed up an ABVP member. However, Lalit Pandey denied the allegations. “This is nothing but propaganda against us by the Left organisations.”

Reports emerged late on Saturday night about four students getting attacked in an autorickshaw outside the campus. However, HT could not independently verify these reports. DCP (southwest) Devender Arya said that in the initial probe eyewitnesses could not confirm any of these reports.

First Published: Sep 15, 2018 20:55 IST