Geeta Kumari from the United Left Panel, comprising All India Students’ Association (AISA), Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and Democratic Students’ Federation (DSF) has been elected President of the JNU Students’ Union 2017-18. Ms. Kumari won by a margin of 463 votes beating ABVP’s Nidhi Tripathi. BAPSA’s Shabana Ali finished third in the race for President.
The result was declared at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning after a counting process that started on Friday night.
The counting process turned into a festival of sorts with students camping outside the counting centre and raising cheers. Since EVMs are not used in the JNUSU polls, counting took over 24 hours keeping the entire campus on tenterhooks.
For the central panel posts of vice-president, general secretary and joint secretary, the United Left Panel candidates of Simone Zoya Khan, Duggirala Srikrishna and Shubhanshu Singh respectively won comfortably with huge margins. The ABVP came in a distant second.
The fight for the president’s post was a much closer contest between Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP)’s Nidhi Tripathi Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association’s (BAPSA) Shabana Ali and United Left’s Geeta Kumari with Ms. Kumari retaining a narrow lead through several rounds of early counting and then extending her lead as the day progressed.
The first results to be announced were for the post of councillors. At the School of International Studies, out of five posts, the United Left panel won four posts while an independent candidate secured one post.
At the School of Social Sciences, the United Left Panel won four seats while the Bhagat Singh Ambedkar Students’ Organisation (BASO) won one seat. The BASO was fighting its first students’ union election this year.
In the traditional Left-leaning campus, the ABVP managed to improve its performance showing that if the AISA-SFI-DSF alliance was not it place, they could have secured a few posts.
The ABVP did particularly well in the Science Schools and Special Centres showing that there is a tilt towards right-wing association on campus especially among science students.
The BAPSA that made its debut in 2015 and came into the limelight with its presidential candidate Rahul Sonpimple putting up a good fight for the post of president in 2016 continued to establish itself as a force to reckon with.
The Ambedkarites made inroads by securing a sizeable number of votes in every post that they put up a candidate showing that their “unity of the oppressed” call had found flavour with students who were looking to reject the Left vs Right binary of JNUSU politics.
NSUI draw a blank
The National Students Union of India (NSUI) also drew a blank with its central panel candidates not finding themselves in the top three posts.
The fight for the post of president was close as independent candidate Farooque Alam who had regaled students at the presidential debate and All India Students’ Federation’s (AISF) Aparajitha Raja managing to unsettle the equation with their candidature.
At 58.6%, there was a marginal dip in voter turnout this year. However, the 2016 vote was the highest turnout JNUSU elections had seen in several years as it took place in the context of the aftermath of the February 9, 2016 incident. The outgoing JNUSU was forged between an AISA-SFI alliance.