JNUSU Polls 2018: ABVP Attacks EC Members, Counting Halted
Counting of votes in the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union elections on 14 September were halted after members of the ABVP reportedly entered the vote counting area in the early hours of 15 September, attacked members of the Election Committee and attempted to snatch away sealed ballot boxes and ballot papers, Himanshu Kulshreshtha, the Election Committee’s Chairperson said.
The counting process, which began 14 September 2018 at 10 pm was suspended due to ABVP members forcibly entering the counting venue and attempting to snatch away the sealed ballot boxes as well as ballot papers from our counting centres. This was in addition to intimidation and violence on our Election Committee, including on our female members led by a Presidential and a Joint Secretary candidate.Himanshu Kulshreshtha, Chairperson, Election Committee
The EC has demanded an unconditional apology from ABVP as members of the EC have been injured badly.
Collective Statement from 12 Parties on ABVP Attack
The AISA, DSF, BAPSA, SFI, CRJD, AISF, NSUI, SIO, YFDA, BASO, MSF, and Collective issued a joint statement against the attack by members of the ABVP. The statement in full, reads:
“Condemn ABVP's Hooliganism During JNUSU Election Counting Process!
Unite Against Every Attempt by ABVP to Disrupt Conducting of the Counting!
Counting for the JNUSU Elections 2018-19 has been suspended by the Election Committee (EC) following violence by the ABVP members who physically attacked and injured EC members and indulged in vandalism.
Late night on Friday, the EC made announcements calling for candidates to send their counting agents for central panel votes from the combined schools (science schools and smaller schools). ABVP did not send counting agents even after the last call was made. Long after sealed ballot boxes were opened and counting began, ABVP demanded that its agents be allowed in, and resorted to violence.”
“As per established norms and convention, nobody other than EC members are allowed inside the counting station once counting begins. It must be noted the same rule was applied to the counting agents for the post of Councillors from the United Left for the School of Language, Literature and Cultural Studies, who could not be present on time. The EC’s decision was accepted by the candidates and agents.”
“But ABVP refused to follow rules that are applicable to everyone. They broke the door of SIS-I building where counting is happening, and the barricades in front. They manhandled the guards on duty, snatched phones from people who were video recording and also assaulted some of the journalists who were present there.
The joint secretary candidate from ABVP even started threatening that he won't let the election process to proceed. These acts of vandalising public property and attacking the students, EC members and guards are nothing but the reflection of their frustration of being rejected by the student community.”
“ABVP members such as Saurabh Sharma, Raghavendra Mishra, Akhilesh Pathak and some ABVP candidates like Lalit Pandey (ABVP Presidential candidate) and Venkat Choubey (ABVP Joint Secretary Candidate) entered the SIS-I building, broke glasses of doors and barged into the rooms were counting was taking place.”
“After this, they laid siege to the rooms and prevented anybody from entering or leaving the rooms. They even tried to capture the ballots, which the EC managed to prevent. They manhandled and injured some EC members.
The ABVP's acts constitute a serious violation of the election process. The ABVP by indulging in violence has not only disrupted the counting process but also sought to undermine the sanctity of the student EC whose decision is abided by all organisations.”
“We, the undersigned organisations, demand:
That the ABVP members – Saurabh Sharma, Raghavendra Mishra, Akhilesh Pathak and others – vacate the counting venue immediately to allow the election process to continue.
Tabrez Hasan, AISA
Saket Moon, DSF
Manju Priya, BAPSA
Deepali Aparajita, SFI
Arvind Kumar Yadav, CRJD
Aparajitha. R, AISF
Lijy. K. Babu, NSUI
Waseem RS, SIO
Heba Ahmed, YFDA
Basit Abubakr, BASO
Shahana Parveen, MSF
Udita Halder, Collective”
The ABVP’s statement in response to the attack is reproduced in full, below:
“EC becomes the 5th partner in Left Unity Alliance
The Saturday early hours saw an unprecedented incident in JNU, where Election Committee was caught red-handed while doing gross violation of JNUSU constitution. Rule 5(b) of part 3 in Appendix 1 of JNUSU constitution says that no votes can be counted unless the counting agents of all the candidates are present at the counting hall. The rule provides that each ballot paper must be shown to the counting agents of all the candidates. EC members broke the seal of ballot box of School of Sciences in absence of the counting agents of the following candidates – Lalit Pandey, Geetasri Boruah, Ganesh Gurjar and Venkat Choubey.”
“The workers of four leftist organisations – AISA, SFI, AISF and DSF – aggressively captured the counting complex and did vandalism, in which a security guard got injured. ABVP has challenged the sanctity of whole election process.
The high voting percentage in Sciences and School of Languages, both of which are considered ABVP strongholds, was being seen as a sign of bright perspectives for ABVP. The interruption in vote counting done by Left, will definitely hurt the ABVP, which is tipped to have a very fine chance of winning in Central Panel.”
2018 JNUSU Elections Record Highest Voter Turnout in Six Years
The voter turnout in the keenly contested Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) election on Friday, 14 September, was 67.8 per cent, believed to be the highest in six years.
Over 5,000 students cast their votes. The counting has begun and the results are expected to be announced on Sunday, 16 September.
Last year and in 2016, the voting percentage was 59 percent. In 2015, the voting percentage was 55 percent. In 2013 and 2014, the percentage hovered around 55 per cent while in 2012, the voter turnout had reached 60 per cent.
Raise Issues Concerning Campus, Say Voters to Candidates
Slogans and dhapli beats filled the air on the JNU campus as candidates and their supporters made last-ditch efforts to to sway voters in their favour outside the polling centres.
The voters wanted the candidates to raise issues concerning the campus instead of national issues.
"The candidates in the presidential debate talked about national issues like lynching and other things but had little to talk about the issues facing the varsity," said a student, not willing to be named.
Polling had started at 9.30 am with students queuing up to cast their votes for the four crucial posts of president, vice-president, secretary and joint secretary.
All arrangements were made by the election authorities for the JNUSU polls, which are being closely watched in the aftermath of various controversies that rocked the universities across the country in the recent past.
The Left-backed All India Students' Association (AISA), Students' Federation of India (SFI), Democratic Students' Federation (DSF) and All India Students' Federation (AISF) have come together to form the United-Left alliance.
(With inputs from PTI)