The sweeping victory by the Left in the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) elections in New Delhi, amidst the attempts of the Sangh Parivar government at the Centre to saffronise the campus, has grabbed special attention of the country.
It is when the BJP government has been moving ahead with an agenda of moulding the central university campuses according to the Sangh Parivar ideologies by tightening its grip on the academic and administrative sectors and branding all the independent and democratic expressions in the campuses as sedition, that the Left students' organisations comprising the All India Students Association (AISA), Students Federation of India (SFI), All India Students Federation (AISF) and Democratic Students Federation (DSF) bagged the four key seats by decimating the ABVP, the RSS student outfit. The Modi government has been making direct attempts to bring JNU under the apolitical regimentation of the Sangh by sabotaging the academic tradition and the free thinking atmosphere in the campus.
The revamping made, starting right from the method of admissions to the curriculum and administrators, curtailed the students' opportunities for independent study and research in their dream university. The campus atmosphere was made knowledge-unfriendly. JNU has been burning in protest against these for more than 2 years. The Centre is frantically making efforts to bring the central universities including that in Kasaragod, Kerala, under the grip of RSS. P opular protests against such moves have been gaining momentum in Kasaragod, Tamil Nadu and Thiruvarur. Amidst all this, the victory of the secular student union in JNU gives hope.
After coming to power in 2014, the BJP government has been making systematic moves to accomplish 'Hindutwa invasion' in the central universities including JNU. They carried out the minimum agenda of re-moulding higher education in consonance with the Sangh Parivar ideology and its implementations and also suppressing the political surge inside the campus. An event was held on February 9, 2016 to protest the hanging of the Parliamentary attack convict Afzal Guru on his third death anniversary. The BJP government was turning the event into a pawn to make way for the Sangh Parivar 'invasion' into the university by decimating the campus democracy.
Research students like Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid were charged with sedition and arrested and retaliatory actions that would ruin their future were taken. It was an incident in which the government was bent upon the action described as freeing JNU from the anti-national forces using the mainstream media that danced to its tunes. Even after 2 years, the police has not filed the chargesheet. However, the university authorities have been moving ahead by expelling Umar Khalid and imposing a penalty of Rs 10, 000 to Kanhaiya Kumar . Amidst this commotion, a student Najeeb Ahmed who went missing from the campus after being a victim of ABVP-BJP goondaism, has still not been found.
With the aim of stemming the tide of influence of the secular-democratic forces of the campus, the courses and examinations were reshuffled. Over the last two years, the BJP has been trying to burn the house to fright away the mouse in JNU and in other campuses of the country. In parallel, moves were also made to enhance the sway of the Hindutva organization in the campus too. In both of the last two union elections, the anti-Fascist candidates were scraping through with narrow minority.
But this time the leftist students, the collective of lower caste students like Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association (BAPSA), National Students Union (NSU) all came together and ranged themselves in defence against the Sangh parivar attempt to capture the campus with the support of the Centre. The CPI and CPM students organizations joined hands with other outfits including the students wing of the CPI-ML and DSF, which is a splinter organization from SFI. They faced the election forming a coalition. It may be recalled that in the Delhi University elections, where ABVP is the main force, ASA and SFI were contesting independently and fighting each other. Thus, the latest victory is seen as convincing the left wing about the strategy to take on Fascism.
It was amidst the jubilation of having won the three key seats in Delhi University that ABVP was dealt this blow from JNU results. ABVP which got into consternation about the declaration of JNU's election results, in which ballot paper was used, tried to disrupt the vote counting, but due to stiff resistance that did not work. Finally when the result was declared, the campus had given them a rout. Those like BAPSA which had contested independently of the left front, made an impressive performance. In other words, the result of JNU election has to be read as a signal of the enlightened campus and youth of India having roundly rejected the move to saffronise JNU and other campuses. The results meanwhile also give strong messages leading to the upcoming Lok Sabha elections for both the victors and vanquished alike.