These may have been elections just to elect the students union of a university but the issues that dominated the campaigning were of national level.
Abolition of special status of Jammu and Kashmir, mob lynching and alleged “saffronisation”, along with the “tukde tukde” episode, took the centre stage this time in the high profile elections to the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU).
Voting for JNUSU elections, which are seen as proxy polls for the national parties, was held on September 6. The results were expected to be out by September 8 but a dispute erupted and reached the Delhi High Court, which ordered a stay on declaration of results till September 17.
The HC stay came after two students from the university approached it alleging that the Lyngdoh Committee Rules were being flouted in the conduct of the polls. Hence, the counting of votes was halted midway.
During the campaign, BJP-affiliated Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP) raked up the issue of nationalism.
It focussed on telling students that ‘tukde-tukde’ episode of 2016 on the campus was the worst in JNU history and only ABVP can help the varsity to get rid of the ‘anti-national’ tag.
In 2016, it was alleged that a group of students gathered in JNU and raised anti-national slogans. Delhi police booked Left-backed students union president Kanhaiya Kumar and office bearer Umar Khalid, alleging that they had organised the programme and actively participated in it.
Kumar contested the last Lok Sabha elections in Bihar’s Begusarai, where he was defeated by BJP’s Giriraj Singh.
“The Left parties and their leader (Kumar) played major part in giving JNU anti-national tag. Only ABVP can help them get rid of it,” said Siddharth Yadav, state secretary of ABVP.
Students from Left-oriented political groups raked up the issue of abolition of special status of J&K granted under Article 370 and the communication blackout in valley.
Left-affiliated candidates also tried to use cases of mob lynching to garner votes in their favour. Most of them contended that such cases increased in the country since 2015.
“The central government has failed to safeguard minorities and if ABVP wins, then the same will be repeated in varsity,” leaders of left alliance were seen saying during campaign.
Congress-affiliated National Students Union of India (NSUI) raised the issue of communication blackout in J&K, while maintaining that it will always remain a part of India.
In Delhi University, where the students union elections took place on Thursday, the issues ranged from Kashmir to “saffronisation”.
Student leaders spoke about issues like removal of ‘Gujarat riot’ chapter from syllabus and installation of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s bust, which was later blackened by NSUI.
The ABVP here tried to replicate BJP’s model of election campaigning and appointed “Panna Pramukhs” to increase influence among voters. The RSS’ student wing focused more on the work done by the outgoing DUSU, which was dominated by ABVP.
NSUI raised issues like economic slowdown, communication blackout in valley and referred to last year’s forged degree debacle, which had left ABVP embarrassed.
ABVP’s presidential candidate Ankiv Baisoya was found to have submitted forged degree for admission in DU. Though he won the elections, he had to step down from the post of president, after NSUI aggressively fought for his disqualification.