JNUSU polls: Aspirants debate on Vemula, Ambedkar, nationalism

JNUSU polls: Aspirants debate on Vemula, Ambedkar, nationalism

JNUSU polls: Aspirants debate on Vemula, Ambedkar, nationalism

Rohith Vemula's suicide, sedition row, nationalism and B R Ambedkar's vision were some of the topics that were part of the high-voltage JNU presidential debate ahead its students' union election.

The night-long event, conducted in the US presidential debate-style and considered a deciding factor for the polls, was held here yesterday with five candidates battling it out for the post of JNUSU president presenting their views.

While all the candidates claimed a stake in the movement following Hyderabad University Dalit scholar Vemula's suicide, there was a fight over who follows Ambedkarite politics for installing the visionary's statues on campus.

Mohit Pandey, candidate of the "Left unity" alliance, spoke of the celebrated "Stand with JNU" movement and "Occupy UGC" protests.

Besides coming down heavily on the government over its handling of the sedition row, Pandey's speech, laced with aggression and a pinch of humour, also had a mention of BJP MLA Gyandev Ahuja's "condom-counting" and Prime Minister Narendra Modi featuring in a Reliance advertisement.

"He (Modi) has moved from being Pradhan Sevak to Pradhan model," the president-aspirant said during the speech.

BAPSA's candidate Rahul Sonpimple began his speech by extending support to the people in Kashmir Valley and went on to talk about the LGBT community and its efforts to make India reflect upon IPC Section 377.

He too touched upon the Vemula case and the recent arguments involving whether he belonged to the Dalit or the OBC community saying, the focus of the debate needs to be more on the reasons behind his suicide.

He made strong promises like changing the "anti-national" perception associated with the Left-wing politics and ensuring a fall in the drop-out rates, especially by women and students from the minority communities.

Sunny Dhiman of Congress affiliated National Students' Union of India (NSUI) began his speech by crediting Vemula's mother as his motivation behind contesting elections.

Dhiman emphasised on the state of affairs after the BJP was voted to power at the Centre and claimed "ache din ayenge, jab Modi ji jayenge (good days will arrive, when Modi will go out of power)" besides drawing comparisons between ABVP and terrorist group ISIS.

Janhawi Ojha, candidate of RSS' student wing Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the lone female in fray for the presidential post, touched upon the recent rape incident inside JNU campus.

"If a rape happens outside the campus, it becomes 'Nirbhaaya', but is ignored if something happens inside it," she remarked.

Polling for the keenly contested JNUSU election is scheduled for tomorrow and the counting will begin in the night.

The election assumes significance in the aftermath of the controversy which has rocked JNU in recent months over an event on campus during which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised leading to arrest of former JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar and two others.

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