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JNUSU polls: As ABVP prepares to take on Left, BAPSA hopes to play a spoiler

On the last day of campaigning for the JNUSU elections, ex-JNU students and former students’ union members from Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) threw their weight in the campus elections. They said this year’s elections is a binary fight between the Left alliance and the ABVP. But on the ground level, the swing seems to be blowing in favour of Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association’s (BAPSA) candidates. 

 “Fearing the rise of nationalist ABVP in the Left dominated campus, the traditionally poles apart Left students’ organisations, All India Students’ Association and Student Federation of India, have joined hands. It shows how significant a player the ABVP has become in the campus politics. In this sense, the September 9 elections is basically a contest between the Left alliance and ABVP,” said 
Govindchand Mishra, former vice-president of JNU Students’ Union (JNUSU), 1996. 

In 1996, ABVP had captured three seats — those of the vice-president, general-secretary and joint-secretary —  in the four-member JNUSU. Drawing similarity between 1996 and 2016, Shiv Nath, former president of JNU ABVP said: “In 1996, a host of anti-national activities were going on in the campus. A seminar supporting Kashmir’s “Azadi” was organised. In the elections after these activities, ABVP trounced the Left parties and captured three seats in the panel. It seems, a repeat of 1996 will happen in 2016.” 

The Left alliance is also very confident that they would be able to keep the ABVP away.  “Support for our campaign has been phenomenal. We are very hopeful that our candidates will win,” said Rama Naga, outgoing general-secretary and an AISA activist. As the battle between the Right and the Left goes on, a groundswell of support is growing for BAPSA in general and its presidential candidate in particular. “Both the Left and the Right were involved in the controversies that erupted in the campus. So, voters may opt for the third viable option, that is, BAPSA,” said a research scholar. 

“Candidates fielded by BAPSA are known faces in the campus. They have been raising students’ issues for a very long time. In addition, their candidates have good oratory skills,” said Paljor, a research student at School of International Studies.

Polls in JNU is scheduled on September 9. AISA and SFI had formed an alliance to take on the assertive ABVP. Kanhaiya’s party AISF is not contesting the polls this year. Upbeat BAPSA, a Dalit-tribal platform, has announced its candidates for all the posts. Last year, it fielded only two contestants.
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