Gorakhpur University’s student union elections have been postponed for the second year in a row, many decisions are being taken for this decision which came just two days before the voting. The election was postponed despite the release of the election program last year. Despite the university’s order, the students have not given up yet, despite being discharged, they are constantly demanding to conduct elections through demonstration and memorandum.
Even though it was a student union election, the SP and BJP were directly in it. After winning the traditional Lok Sabha seat of the BJP in the Lok Sabha by-election in March 2018, the SP wanted to give it another blow through the students’ union elections, while the BJP wanted to retain its credibility by winning the student union. Both the parties were looking at the students’ union elections related to the preparations for 2019. The parties had made the students’ union election a question of prestige. This is the reason that when the election was postponed in the last minute in a dramatic manner, there is speculation whether the election has been postponed to save the ABVP from defeat.
Last year too, due to no election, this time students were protesting for a long time in protest over the demand for students’ union elections, sieging the Vice Chancellor. Finally, when the university administration did not budge, the students sat on indefinite fast. Admitting defeat, the university sent the election proposal to the Uttar Pradesh government, which was accepted. After the election date came, politics started regarding ticket distribution. The ABVP gave Ranjit Singh Srinet a ticket and the Samajwadi Students’ Assembly nominated Annu Prasad, along with Sachin Shahi from NSUI, Bhaskar Chaudhary from Ambedkarite Student Union for Rights. Also, Anil Dubey, Aishwarya Pandey, Prince Singh and Indresh Yadav were in the fray as independents.
32 other candidates were trying to wager on all the posts including Vice President, General Secretary and Library Minister. Despite 8 contenders for the post of president, a direct fight was being considered between ABVP and Samajwadi Students’ Assembly, due to which all eyes were set on these two student organizations.
On September 9, supporters of Independent candidate Indresh Yadav informed the Election Officer that Indresh had been kidnapped. Indresh has been an active member of the Samajwadi Student Assembly in the past. Indresh’s supporters alleged that Annu Prasad was behind the kidnapping. This form was the last day of withdrawal. In a dramatic manner, Indresh Yadav reached the SP office in the evening and in a press conference with SP District President and Annu Prasad announced Annu’s support in the election. After some time, Indresh’s photo with Akhilesh Yadav started going viral through social media. Indresh could not withdraw the form but went missing from the campus.
Here, ABVP gave ticket to Ranjit Singh Srinet, while Anil Dubey was an active activist of ABVP for a long time. There was a lot of resentment among the workers for Anil not getting the ticket, which he also expressed on social media. There was an open discussion in the campus that due to the renovation of the ABVP office and the cast factor, Ranjit was given the ticket.
With this step of ABVP, the atmosphere of Gorakhpur University campus was divided among the casteist factions. It seemed that the old days of fighting of Thakur and Brahmin supremacy had returned to the campus. Anil Dubey himself also explains the money power and caste of the opposition (Ranjit Singh) behind his ticket.
On the other hand, the candidates of Samajwadi Students’ Assembly were in a strong position. The same report was given to BJP state general secretary Pankaj Singh who visited Gorakhpur on 10 September. After this, Pankaj Singh asked the city councilors to campaign in support of the ABVP candidate. The next day former Mayor Satya Pandey and some BJP leaders also went to campus.
Voting was to be held on 13 September. On 11 September, the supporters of the candidate for the post of ABVP, Ranjit Singh Srinet, reached the Law Department shouting slogans, indecent on the refusal of the teachers. When the students doing class in the department got information, they beat up the miscreants. The supporters of ABVP rebel Anil Dubey were also among the beaten. There was a scuffle on both sides for half an hour. Immediately after this violent incident, all classes were closed. Within the next 2 hours, the teacher’s union announced the boycott of the students’ union election. It was also supported by the employees union of the university.
In a hurry, with the postponement of the students’ union elections, the holiday was announced till 13 September. The holiday was later extended for two days. The fight between the two parties in the students’ union election was not an unforeseen event, but the manner in which it was exaggerated indicates that everything happened in a planned manner. No one familiar with the history of university student union elections can easily accept the decision to postpone elections on the basis of the “incident and turbulent atmosphere created on campus”.
In 2017, the election was postponed in the same dramatic manner. Even then the chances of elections were low, but under the pressure of the students, the university administration had to agree.
The circumstances in which the adjournment of the election was decided raises many questions. For example, during the election campaign hundreds of times the recommendations of the Lyngdoh Committee were torn apart, then the administration was silent, why this strictness suddenly ?,
Secondly, was it a coincidence to leave after the controversy in the university, boycott the Teachers ‘Union Students’ Union election, support them to the Employees Union and take two days off postponing the election?
Third, due to the readiness with which the election was postponed, why was action not taken against the culprits when the faces of the viral videos are clearly visible?
Fourth, the hurry to postpone the election in a hurry just two days before the vote raises a natural question. Was the university administration under pressure from “above”?
Fifth, will the university administration compensate the candidates for reasonable expenses in the event of the election being canceled?
Some Unfortunate Events
In 2016, the unity of Dalit-backward students was broken by upper caste domination
In 2016, for the first time in the Gorakhpur University Students ‘Union elections, an OBC became the President of the Students’ Union. ABVP candidate was defeated by Arvind Yadav aka Aman Yadav. This result had shocked the entire state, because till now, only Brahmins or Thakurs had become president on the post of president. This was possible due to the solidarity of Dalit and OBC students, but it was not sudden. Since 2014, Gorakhpur has not remained untouched due to the slogan of Dalit, OBC and minority solidarity under social justice across the country due to the incidents of Una scandal, Rohit Vemula’s death and increasing Dalit oppression.
The victory increased the confidence, then the birth anniversary and tribute meetings of Dr. BR Ambedkar, Jyotiba Phule, Phoolan Devi, VP Mandal, Savitri Bai Phule started being organized in the campus. Even during the JNU episode, demonstrations were organized here in support of JNU, in which a large number of students took part. By the time the 2017 students’ union elections were over, the issue of Savarna vs others had become dominant in the campus. As unity of Dalit and backward students strengthened here, ABVP became weaker.
Former Alumni Association president Arvind alias Aman Yadav says that Dalit and backward students are discriminated against here. I myself have faced caste bruises in the university, Dalit and backward caste students had to think a hundred times before I won the election for the post of president here. But now a lot of change has taken place, this time two Dalit candidates for the post of president were not only in the fray but were also among the contenders for victory.