The voter turnout in the keenly contested Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) election on Friday 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. “From 2012, the elections are being conducted as per the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations. In the last six years, I have not seen this high voting percentage,” an official said.
Last year and in 2016, the voting percentage was 59 per cent. In 2015, the voting percentage was 55 per cent. In 2013 and 2014, the percentage hovered around 55 per cent while in 2012, the voter turnout had reached 60 per cent. 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. Another student, Manisha, said, “The JNU culture is ending. Our dhabas are closed by 11 pm. Earlier, they used to stay open till 3 am. Those were the places for debates and discussion. We want the representatives to raise this issue.”
Another student said the elected representatives should work towards ensuring that the university administration is more approachable and should take up the issues of seat cuts and library fund being reduced. A student also mentioned that there is dissatisfaction with the Left and the voters might consider other options.
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.
Besides routine campaigning, the candidates in the JNUSU polls also participated in the presidential debate on Wednesday night and answered the questions that followed. The sought-after event, on the lines of the US presidential debate, is expected to be a deciding factor in the polls.
Source: Financial Express