The 'progressive' campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on September 7 witnessed the most awaited debate the year for the Students' Union Elections which is scheduled for September 9. The otherwise dull Jhelum lawn metamorphosed into a jam-packed amphitheatre where the audience climbed trees and stood on the elevated hostel entrances just to catch a glimpse of the speakers.
The campus stalwart All India Students' Association (AISA) this time has joined hands with Students' Federation of India (SFI) which has led to severe criticism of the 'mainstream' Left. Five speakers namely- Rahul Sonpimple (Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students' Association ), Mohit Pandey (AISA-SFI), Sunny Dhiman (National Students' Union of India), Janhawi Ojha (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) and Dileep Kumar (Swaraj Abhiyan)- participated in the debate which stretched over the night.
This election is much anticipated after the February 9 incident that shook the campus; branded it 'anti-national', 'seditious' in the eyes of many. In these turbulent times, all the organisations came together to dissipate the mounting pressure from the 'saffron forces' with movements like #StandwithJNU but now it's again back to the fight within. Kanhaiya Kumar's organisation All India Students' Federation (AISF) might not be contesting election this time but the onus would be huge to fit into his shoes.
Unexpectedly, BAPSA-- the organisation that is contesting union elections for the second time-- candidate Rahul Sonpimple stole the thunder with what can be called the most powerful address of the evening. Sonpimple largely in his speech highlighted the plight of the oppressed dalit class in the campus and country in the wake of Una violence and called for unity against 'oppressers'. Rejecting any kind of dialogue with the right wing in sheer absence of 'rationality', he condemned the 'greedy' Left in the campus. "Kitna daraaoge ki Gabbar aajayea, Gabbar aajayega? Main kehta hoon is baar campus mein Gabbar nahin kabali aayega (Stop scaring us of the outcome. I say, this time Kabali instead of Gabbar, would come to the campus) ," he said making a refernce to Rajinikath's Kabali.
His opponent Mohit K Pandey retaliated to him strongly by swearing his allegiance to constructive politics but saved his best for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose government is accused of trying to saffronise the largely Left campus.
"When Dalits were being beaten up in Una, Modiji said shoot me, shoot me. Reliance took it very seriously. They shot him and splashed it in the newspapers. He wanted to be pradhan sevak (chief servant) and now he is pradhan model (chief model) --- Jio Modi, Jio Modi," he said, a reference on Reliance’s campaign for its 4G Jio service.
NSUI's Sunny Dhiman again blamed the Left groups for alleged saffronisation of the varsity. "The radical people are responsible for the rise of ABVP on campus," he said.
ABVP's Ojha criticised the AISA for allegedly failing to pursue the rape case involving a member. "They should be scared as a sherni (tigress) is here," she roared as supporters cheered her on and opponents booed her.
Swaraj Abhiyan made its debut with Dileep who too, like others, ended with 'Jai Bheem'.