NEW DELHI: After a four-year hiatus, the poll bugle is blowing on the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus, and student leaders are busy planning campaign strategies. Sloganeering has begun, and seniors are busy guiding newcomers on the intricacies of JNU polls.
The JNU Students Union (JNUSU) has posts of President, Vice-President, General-Secretary and Joint-Secretary, which will be decided after the March 1 vote, along with school councillors. Each school has one or more councillors, depending on its numerical strength. Those like the School of Languages, School of Social Sciences and School of International Studies, which have high enrolments, have five councillors each.
“The final list of candidates has been declared, with 10 in the fray for President and five for Vice-President. Six candidates will slug it out for the post of General Secretary, with another six eyeing the Joint Secretary’s post. The presidential debate is scheduled for February 28,” said Prabodhan Aravind Pol, student and chairman of JNU’s Election Committee (EC).
The new union is expected to take charge by the first week of March. It’ll have a short tenure of 2-3 months, as a fresh poll will be held in September after new admissions. In line with Lyngdoh committee recommendations and the Supreme Court order of December 2011, the upper limit to contest polls will be 22 years for BA students, 25 for MA students, and 30 for MPhil and PhD students.
“We are also planning to create a group of observers, comprising teachers, who’ll monitor filing of nominations and other poll-related activity,” said Prof. Abdul Nafey, Dean of Students’ Welfare and chairman of the Lyngdoh-recommended Grievance Redressal Commission.
JNU is famous for its debates on political and social issues. This year’s campaign promises more, with student issues of hostel accommodation, filling of OBC seats and Wi-Fi network for the whole campus high on agenda. All India Students Association (AISA) promises to address lowering the weightage given to the interview during admissions, from 30 to 15 per cent. They also promise to get recognition for madrassa certificates, for admission to JNU. The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) want the administration to raise scholarship amount, in view of increased living costs on campus, while National Students Union of India (NSUI) plans to push for an active placement cell, a full-fledged bank, and Metro bus feeder services. Students Federation of India (SFI) and All India Students Federation (AISF) will continue their poll alliance. One of the issues they will press for, is the creation of a corpus fund to ensure that scholarships are disbursed on time, irrespective of delays by the government. In its appeal, Youth for Equality (YFE) promises to rise above sectarian politics, and is in favour of Lyngdoh-recommendations. They want to focus on e-governance facilities, establishment of a university press, and access to information on JNU’s student exchange programmes with other universities.
In 2008, SC had imposed a stay taking suo motu cognisance of some Lyngdoh-recommendations not being followed in JNU’s poll campaign. Ironically, it was the JNUSU polls which they had taken as a framework. Student leaders have, however, said they will continue to pursue the matter in the SC, on whether a court can direct implementation of the Lyngdoh-recommendations. The matter was referred to a constitution bench in 2009.