JNU campus elects SFI discard as its president
New Delhi, Sep 16,2012: JNU students handed out a morale boosting victory to SFI rebels, electing their candidate Lenin Kumar as the next president, though the other three panel posts went to the extreme Left outfit AISA that held complete control over the last union.
The 'dissolution' of SFI's JNU unit that took a contradictory stand from its parent party CPI-M over the issue of support to Pranab Mukherjee's presidential candidature, actually helped revive the rebel outfit in the campus which also elected five of its candidates to councillors posts. Lenin polled 1,445 votes out of 4309 total votes polled, winning by a margin of over 200 votes against his nearest AISA candidate Om Prasad to take over the JNUSU president's post from AISA's Sucheta De.
Minakshi Buragohain, Shakeel Anjum, and Piyush Raj -- all from the All India Students Association (AISA) -- won the other three panels positions of vice-president, general secretary and secretary respectively. The election that came just six months after the last union was elected also saw AISA claim 15 of the 29 council seats for different schools and centres of learning.
The SFI-JNU, that was formed by the expelled members of the SFI and fought the election in alliance with Communist Party of India's student wing AISF, also won 5 councillor seats. SFI -- the official version of the party -- could win only one seat in the councils, while its presidential candidate Kopal Singh finished eighth among 11 candidates.
Interestingly, in the March elections that happened before the unit was dissolved, SFI had failed to win any seat on the panel, and had only two councillors -- one of them Lenin. "Of course it was (a boost) given the adverse conditions we fought in. It sends a big political message," said Roshan Kishore, the expelled former president of SFI who now leads the charge of SFI-JNU.
Lenin, a PhD student of the School of International Studies, said while he had quite a few short term objectives in mind, his long term vision was to revive the legacy of the students movements in India. "The students movement in India has been at the forefront of struggles -- be it emergency in the 70s or the communal politics of the 90s -- but the movement has dithered in recent times. It has to be revived to give an alternative of principled politics," he said.
He said it was for taking a "principled stand" that the unit was dissolved in JNU but the Left student outfits should have a certain amount of autonomy to take their own stands. "Otherwise they will be like NSUI or ABVP," he said. Though AISA lost out the president's post to SFI-JNU, it still managed to hold a considerable hold over the campus, a traditional Left bastion.
The outgoing president Suchita De chose to describe the SFI-JNU's presidential victory as a "triumph of AISA's politics" on the campus. "It is we who have raised issues of tribals, questions of displacement. It is because of our politcs that nobody can sit up and say that we support the CPM's opportunistic politics," she said.
However, new members of the panel were unanimous about the major issues at their agenda -- protecting the autonomy of GSCASH (Gender Sensitisation Committee against Sexual Harassment), enhancing scholarships, reducing the marks of viva voce to make the campus more inclusive, and demand for more hostels. While 20 of the 29 council seats were won by AISA and SFI-JNU, the other nine were shared mostly by independent candidates and one each by SFI (official), and ABVP.
Meanwhile, ABVP activists who were engaged in a scuffle with AISA activists on election day, today said they had registered a complaint with the police and JNU's security and Grievance Redressal Cell (GRC) against AISA candidate Shakeel Anjum and others for allegedly beating them up.