Millennium Post

JNU Left left with itself and clones

The student elections in the elite Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi usually creates a lot of buzz in the student circuit and in the media and this year was no exception. But this year was different in other aspects.

The Students’ Federation of India [SFI], the student wing of the Communist Party of India [Marxist] or CPI[M] which has had a long history in the campus and has produced many of India’s  topline Marxist leaders was disbanded by the present CPI[M] leadership for dissent, during the presidential elections in which the CPI[M] had endorsed Pranab Mukherjee, calling him a popular choice. The student wing revolted, calling it a sham. As a result the entire SFI unit inside JNU was disbanded.

But after the elections, it is clear that the decision has not gone down well with the students of JNU, who have elected a rebel SFI leader to a main post, who now runs the renamed SFI-JNU unit. V Lenin Kumar has won the most sought-after post of the president of the JNUSU or the JNU Students Union. The other three posts of the union have been retained by AISA, the ultra left students’ group which had previously all the four major seats under its belt. It is not clear how a divided union will play out eventually for the next one year since historically SFI and AISA have been bitter rivals in JNU though both belong to the Left. But the new unit of the SFI with its umbilical chord with the parent party now severed, may want to work more closely on issues that matter to the students.

But interestingly, JNU elections or rather the larger political imagination in JNU is way different from run of the mill college or university elections and students here vote on a range of issues, both global and national as well as practical and ideological. The elections too, held under tight and effective vigilance is a model for student elections in the country and nowhere does elections go so high on passion yet never retreating into any violence. This is to be noted. The CPI[M] may want to downplay the elections  claiming it to be a small matter but they cannot hide their disappointment of taking a unilateral and dictatorial stance of disbanding its union in what is one of its last remaining bastions in public life.

But the informed student community in general and the JNU community in particular will be looking forward to seeing how the rebel leader works with AISA leaders and how the new unit functions with the new political mandate. That will be defining the course of action of JNU leftists as well as the Leftists outside.
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