Independent candidate Alam steals the limelight at JNUSU presidential debate
NEW DELHI: Wednesday's night-long presidential debate for the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) election witness sparks flying, with seven of the contestants not just fiercely debating issues related to the University, but the larger socio-political scenario as well.
Notably, it was independent candidate MD Farooque Alam who stole the show with his witty speech and scathing attacks at student political outfits in the varsity for indulging in ideological wars.
Alam took turns to pick on several political promises which failed on various levels and countered the Left for being "ignorant for differently-abled", despite being in power for a long time. He did not, however, come up with concrete solutions for prevailing issues faced by students.
"The Left showed me a dream of aazadi, but later told I was wrong to dream about it. BAPSA played 'Shakuni' in JNUSU movements. The ABVP is known for its goon culture and imposition of nationalism," Alam said.
Shabana Ali, presidential candidate of Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students' Association (BAPSA) took on the outgoing Union for its inability to sustain any students' movements on campus, such as the 'Justice for Najeeb' movement and the protests against University Grants Commission on the issue of seat cuts.
She accused the united Left panel, comprising All India Students' Association, Students' Federation of India and Democratic Students' Federation, of having given up on their ideology to secure votes.
"The panel talks about coming together to remove ABVP from the campus. Forget about removing the ABVP, the Union could not even remove flower-pots placed at the Freedom Square to prevent us from using the space for protests," Ali stated.
Meanwhile, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad candidate Nidhi Tripathi concentrated on campus-related infrastructure issues and said that her outfit, if voted to power, would work towards finding solutions to problems and not just create noise like the previous Union.
Tripathi also came under attack from other candidates over the disappearance of fellow student Najeeb Ahmad, who had gone missing in October 2016 after an altercation with some students affiliated to the ABVP.
Aparajitha Raja of All India Students' Federation said that the idea of a public university was under attack by right-wing elements and that this year over 900 students were not admitted because of the government's policies.
Gita Kumari, from the united Left panel, said that while ABVP was hand-in-glove with the anti-student administration of the college, BAPSA spent more time the past year fighting JNUSU rather than fighting the policies of the Vice-Chancellor.
She said that while the outgoing president lost his PhD scholarship for seeking justice for Najeeb, those who assaulted Najeeb have not been punished.
Kumari also paid tribute to journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead on Tuesday, and said that JNU students would continue their struggle to expose right-wing forces and ensure Lankesh's efforts were not in vain.
Varshnika Singh of the Congress-affiliated National Students' Union of India (NSUI) promised a hospital in the campus, as there were many incidents of dog bites, for the treatment of which one has to go to AIIMS or Safdarjung Hospital.