Left unity, 'rapist' slurs figure in JNU debate

Left unity, 'rapist' slurs figure in JNU debate

The February 9 ‘sedition’ episode, gender and caste equality, and left unity featured in the ‘presidential debate’ at Jawaharlal Nehru University. But it wasn’t limited to just that.

Slurs were hurled on the stage and among the crowd watching the proceedings, which began at 9.30 pm on Wednesday and went on till 3 in the morning at Jhelum Lawns on the campus.
“Rapist AISA” and “SFI chamchas” were some of slurs heard at his year’s edition of the debate among candidates vying for the president’s post in the JNU student union. JNUSU polls are on Friday.

The crowd complained about the loudspeaker – the students said the speeches were just like noise. When there was shouting during the question-answer session, many couldn’t make out what was being said.

Mohit K Pandey from the alliance of All India Students Association and Student Federation of India, Sonpimple Rahul Punaram from Birsa-Ambedkar-Phule Student Association, Janhawi Ojha from Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Sunny Dhiman from National Students Union of India and Dileep Kumar from Students Front for Swaraj fought it out. More than once, the debaters took the name of the PhD scholar who was allegedly raped by an AISA member.

This was against the JNU Election Commission’s guidelines.  Barring BJP-affiliated ABVP, every party wanted to take credit for defending Umar Khalid in connection with the February 9 protest on the campus, which led to students being accused of sedition.

The ABVP candidate faced flak for the ‘Shut Down JNU’ campaign during that row.   There was a subterranean alliance amongst all candidates against ABVP, the brunt of which was borne by their candidate Janhawi.

Janhawai called herself babbar sherni or ‘lioness’ in her speech – after which she faced relentless personal remarks on her demeanour and ideology. In the question-answer session, she was asked by BAPSA’s Punaram when she sees a man getting thrashed over social or caste divide, will she roar like a tiger or shout Vande Matram.

The rest of the candidates and the crowd took digs at her, saying ‘sherni ji hume bhi bolne dijiye’ and ‘sherni aa gayi’.

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