JNUSU elections: Over 5,000 students vote, highest poll percentage in 7 years
According to data provided by the university’s election committee, 67.9% of 8,488 registered students cast their votes. Officials attributed the high polling to the huge turnout of first-time voters.Updated: Sep 07, 2019 11:25 IST
Amid cheers and slogans, students voted in large numbers on Friday to take the polling percentage in the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) election to 67.9%, a shade higher than last year’s turnout of 67.8%.
As polling began at 9.30am, supporters of all political groups in the fray were spotted shouting slogans and dancing outside polling booths. Dholaks and musical fire tongs (steel chimta) also made appearances as the supporters of candidates ran from one centre to another encouraging students to vote.
According to data provided by the university’s election committee, 67.9% of 8,488 registered students cast their votes. Officials attributed the high polling to the huge turnout of first-time voters. “A large number of first-year students cast their votes this time. The number of first-time voters have also increased because the University started some new courses in the last two years,” a member of the election committee said.
In the first half of the day, polling was slow but gained momentum in the second leg of the election. JNU follows the paper ballot mode in the elections, which took place in two shifts — 9.30am to 1pm and 2pm to 5.30pm.
Competition for the top post is expected to come down to the wire between the United Left — consisting of the All India Students Association (AISA), Students Federation of India (SFI), Democratic Students Federation (DSF) and All India Students Federation (AISF) —and the Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association (BAPSA).
“We are sure that, like last year, left unity will sweep the JNUSU polls. There is no competition,” the left unity’s presidential candidate Aishe Ghosh, said.
BAPSA’s candidate for president Jitendra Suna claimed the party would win two positions — president and general secretary. “The JNU students have understood the dirty politics of the left. This year, BAPSA will come into the students’ union and work for the cause of students,” he said.
The RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) is hoping to emerge as the single largest party. “For the second time in a row, four left groups have come together to stop us in JNU. But the students are with us,” said ABVP’s presidential candidate Manish Jangid.
Candidates of the students’ wing of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), who made their bow in JNU last year, also hoped to improve their vote share this time.
Many voters said they chose candidates based on their party affiliations, political ideology and their agenda. Nidhi Jarwal, a postgraduate student of philosophy, said, “While the intake of students increased after the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) reservations in JNU, the infrastructure has not been upgraded to support that. We voted for candidates who we think will fight for this.”
Piyush Kumar Maurya, a physically disabled PhD student, said he voted for the candidates who he thinks will work for the cause of students with disabilities. “The marginalised sections on the campus feel they have been sidelined, and we need a students’ union which can pressure the administration to look after the needs of all students and make the campus inclusive for all,” he said.
Some students, meanwhile, said they chose the NOTA (none of the above) option. “I chose NOTA because student politics on this campus does not revolve around students and mostly focuses on national politics,” Srinarayan, a PhD scholar, said.
Meanwhile, members of left-affiliated groups filed a complaint with the JNU election committee about the presence of dean of students Umesh Kadam in polling rooms. Responding to the same, Kadam said, “We went because we received two complaints from students asking why representatives of the grievance redressal cell were not present there.” Kadam is the chairperson of JNU’s grievance redressal cell.
Results for the polls were scheduled to be declared on Sunday, but were stayed by a Delhi High Court order. The JNU election committee did not clarify if it will go ahead and start the counting process. Around 10pm on Friday, the committee had called for an all-party meeting to take a decision. No official statement was issued by the time this report was filed.
First Published: Sep 07, 2019 08:23 IST