Kolkata: Pro-Left student bodies retained their hold in two of the three faculties of the Jadavpur University, where results were declared on Thursday.
For the first time in the 65-year-old history of the Jadavpur University in Kolkata, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP – student wing of Rashtria Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) contested the students’ union polls and finished second in the Engineering faculty ahead of the Students Federation of India (SFI).
However, the ABVP failed to open an account while the Left Democratic Students Federation (DSF) retained all the four office bearers’ post in the Engineering faculty. Another group by the name, ‘We the Independent’ (WTI), however, retained the science department.
The SFI, on the other hand, which is the student wing of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) – has retained all seats in the Arts faculty, after a close fight with the Democratic Students Association.
Even though the ABVP finished second, it trailed behind the DSF by a huge margin in the Engineering faculty. However, the SFI claimed the third position.
The Trinamool Congress Chhatra Parishad (TMCP), affiliate of the state’s ruling All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), fared poorly in all the seats.
The seats won by Left-leaning student unions will have a long term impact in JU considering the recent standoff in the campus against the Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and Union Minister Babul Supriyo.
A total of nine candidates from the ABVP filed their nominations from February 4 to February 6 and the election was held on February 19, 2020.
Speaking to News18, JU’s ABVP president, Suman Das, said, “For the very first time, we contested the polls in all the nine seats including four seats in Arts and five seats in Engineering faculties. We welcome this result as we managed to do well. From now onwards we will try to work more to gain the trust of the students studying here.”
The JU unit Secretary of the SFI, Debraj Debnath, said, “I had told you before that the poll results will be so devastating for the ABVP, that they would never contest again at the JU.”
On September 19, 2019, a mass violence took place at the Jadavpur University, when both the Governor, Jagdeep Dhankar, along with Supriyo came to the campus to attend a seminar organised by the ABVP. Supriyo was allegedly assaulted and Governor Dhankar had to come to his rescue.
Over the years, the ABVP has been trying to gain a foothold in the Jadavpur University and other campuses in Kolkata against the Left-leaning student unions for their belief in ‘Azadi’.
They saw this as an opportunity to fill the ‘nationalist vacuum’ and to cultivate those who were against the Left unions, but got no platform to raise their voice against these organisations.
It all began in the year 2011, when the ABVP started making inroads into the JU. Now, with more than 200 members in its ranks, it is the main opposition against the Left students’ union at the varsity.
In 2016, the standoff intensified after state BJP president Dilip Ghosh criticised “azaadi” rallies (for Manipur and Kashmir) taken out by the Left students’ unions. “The place has become a place for the anti-nationals,” Ghosh had said.
At the JU, the previous students’ election was held in 2017. Since then the arts department is controlled by the SFI, while the science and engineering departments are under WTI and DSF respectively. However, The ABVP is now the main opposition while the Trinamool Chhatra Parishad linked to TMC has no presence.
Not only at the JU, but the Trinamool Chhatra Parishad is weak or under-prepared in most universities and colleges in West Bengal.
Leaders from rival parties allege that this is the reason why the Mamata Banerjee-led government has put students’ elections on hold in many university campuses in the state.