A Resounding Victory for AISA in JNUSU

The Left Front Government’s commitment to corporates has taken the toll of the lives of Rajkumar Bhool, Tapasi malic, Rizwanur Rehaman – and has reaped a bloody harvest at Nandigram in March and now again this month. Spontaneoursly, democratic minded people have poured out on the streets in Kolkata as well Delhi in outrage, and the newly elected Students Union leadership at JNU has been at the forefront of such mobilizations. This has been possible only because of AISA’s decisive victory in the JNUSU this year. This year’s JNUSU polls also reflect a determination on the part of the students of JNU – that the student movement must have a Left leadership that can stand firm with the struggling people rather than in defence of corporate land grab and state terror.

For the first time ever, the All India Students Association (AISA) swept all the four central posts in the JNU Students Union elections. This is also a rare occasion in JNU’s bistory where the SFI-AISF has failed to find a single place on the central panel; and where a sitting JNUSU President from a Left organisation seeking re-election has been rejected. AISA has also achieved its highest-yet tally of councillor seats, winning two seats each in the Schools of Social Sciences (SSS), International Studies (SIS), and Language, Literature and Culture Studies (SLL & CS ) respectively.

Sandeep Singh, General Secretary in the out-going JNUSU was elected President, defeating his contender from YFE by 294 votes as well as sitting President from SFI, Dhananjoy Tripathi, by 349 votes. YFE finished second on the posts of President and General Secretary while SFI was runner-up on the posts of Vice President and Joint Secretary. Shephalika Shekhar was elected Vice President, Pallavi Deka as General Secretary, and Mobeen Alam as Joint Secretary.

Sucheta De, AISA’s sitting Councillor from SSS, was re-elected with the highest number of votes, while the Councillor with the second highest votes in SSS is another AISA candidate Mira Visvanathan. In SIS, both the victorious AISA candidates are from third-world African and Asian countries – Khaled Abdulla Abdelwahab from Sudan and Monalisa Adhikari from Nepal. In SLL & CS, AISA’s sitting Councillor P K Mangalam repeated his feat of being elected with the highest number of votes while the Councillor with the second highest number of votes is another AISA candidate Mohd. Raghib.

This mandate for AISA was also an overwhelming vote of confidence for the student movement against rustications of student activists who took up the issue of violation of minimum wages for daily wage workers on the campus. AISA’s JNUSU office bearers were at the forefront of this movement, and spearheaded a successful resistance to the crackdown – while the JNUSU President SFI had taken a pro-Administration stance and had ‘dissociated’ from the struggle and supported a Proctorial Enquiry against the student activists involved in the workers’ struggle.

The mandate for AISA was also a firm rejection of the Youth for Equality’s anti-reservation plans. AISA had through a series of consistent initiatives challenged the Youth for Equality’s slogan of ‘equality’ – a divisive and narrow slogan that essentially denied and defended existing inequalities of caste and class and relied on the insecurities of young men and women due to rapidly shrinking avenues of education and employment. The election results are a measure of AISA’s success in rallying students around a plank of genuine equality to be achieved by thoroughgoing social transformation, challenging social and economic inequalities and demanding an end to policies of commercialisation of education is order to guarantee education and employment for all, while defending reservations agaist the YFE’s elitist plank of ‘merit’.

In the past year, AISA and its JNUSU leadership through a series of initiatives had spoken out against the failure of courts to deliver justice in cases of communal pogroms, as well as against minority witch-hunting in the name of ‘war on terror’, fake encounters, and draconian laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act deployed to crush people’s movements in the North East and Kashmir. This was in contrast with the very loud silence maintained by the SFI-AISF on most of these issues.

At a time when people of Singur and Nandigram were inspiring peasants all over the nation to resist corporate land grab and SEZs, and governments of all hues fired bullets on peasants agitation in Kalinganagar, Sriganganagar, Nandigram and Khammam, the Left and democratic sections of JNU students naturally expected the JNUSU to stand in solidarity with the peasant resistance. Here again, they were disappointed and angered at SFI and its JNUSU leadership, which not only defended the repression at Singur and Nandigram and justified SEZs in the name of ‘development’, but even failed to hold a single protest action against the firing on CPI(M) cadres at Khammam – no doubt because in the mirror of Khammam they could see the spectre of Nandigram. AISA’s JNUSU leadership on the other hand had led a team of Delhi students to Singur, and had mobilised students to protest against the massacres at Nandigram and Khammam.

In 1993 in the wake of the Babri Masjid demolition and the anti-Mandal frenzy cynically whippped up by ruling class parties as well as the assault of privatization and liberalisation, AISA had first taken JNU by storm by winning the posts of President, Vice President and General Secretary, taking the communal forces head-on and offering a new model of vibrant, vigorous Left student movement. This year’s mandate has again asserted the aspirations of students for democracy and social change in the wake of a fresh assault of privatization of educational targeting, and slavish surrender to US imperialism.