New Delhi: The elections to the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union recorded a 68% voter turnout, the highest in recent times, as students came out in large numbers to vote for a “strong union”. The percentage in earlier years was recorded as 59.6% in 2015 and 58.9% in 2016.
Students lined up outside the Schools of Social Sciences, Language, Environmental Sciences and Information Studies to cast votes for the posts of president, vice-president, general secretary and joint secretary. The counting of votes is underway and results will be announced by Sunday.
What the numbers say
Geeta Kumari, current JNUSU president, said the turnout indicated that “students want a strong union”. “Right from diktats of compulsory attendance to scrapping the Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment, the students have suffered all. They have now come out to vote in large numbers for a strong union that can restore the culture of JNU and fight for the reservation policy."
Of late, the university has seen several protests against the new policies implemented by vice-chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar.
“It is important to note that the turnout is the highest just before the 2019 elections,” she added.
ABVP supporter and PhD student Nidhi Tripathi said students had come out to vote as they sought a change from the Left parties. “They want the right-wing so they have come out to vote. The students want able leadership that can deliver,” she said.
Agendas of aspirants
Twenty-six-year-old N Sai Balaji, who represents the Left unity, is vying for the president’s post.
Balaji, who hails from Hyderabad, mentioned at the presidential debate that he would work to bring back the gender sensitisation committee, roll back the fee hike for engineering students, and fight to restore reservations.
If voted to power, Thallapelli Praveen of the Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association (BAPSA) said he would fight against compulsory attendance.
The issue of compulsory attendance and restoration of reservation policies is also close to Jayant Kumar of the Chhatra Rashtra Dal and Vikas Yadav of the NSUI. ABVP’s Lalit Pandey said he would work to make the campus safe for women, improve the hostel mess and take up the attendance issue.