THE Alliance for Social Justice (ASJ) led by the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and the Ambedkar Students Association (ASA) have swept the Students Union 2017-18 elections at the University of Hyderabad (Hyderabad Central University – HCU).
ASJ candidates won all the major posts, defeating candidates from the alliance comprising the RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the OBC Forum (OBCF).
The ASJ is a grand alliance consisting of SFI, ASA, Tribal Students Forum (TSF), Dalit Students Union (DSU), Muslim Student Federation (MSF) and Telangana Vidyarthi Vedika (TVV).
Sreerag Poickadan from ASA has been elected as the president of the union, securing 1509 votes. ABVP candidate Karan Palsaniya came second with 1348 votes while NSUI candidate Anju Rao G polled 872 votes.
Arif Ahammed from SFI won the post of general secretary, securing 1982 votes and defeating the nearest rival candidate from ABVP-OBCF by a big margin of 409 votes.
The post of vice-president was won by Lunavath Suresh from TSF. He polled 1885 votes and defeated the ABVP-OBCF candidate by 261 votes. But the winning candidates’ candidature was cancelled due to low attendance. Following protests by students against this, it has been decided that the results would be declared later based on the final decision of the Grievance Committee.
Muhammed Ashique of the MSF has won the post of joint secretary, defeating the ABVP-OBCF candidate by a margin of 281 votes and securing 1872 votes.
Gundeti Abhishek from DSU has been elected as the cultural secretary, polling 1792 votes and defeating the ABVP-OBCF candidate by 85 votes.
DSU’s Lolam Sravan Kumar won the post of sports secretary by a margin of 406 votes and polling 1917 votes.
Apart from the central panel posts, the Alliance for Social Justice won more than 80 per cent of the other posts comprising school board members and councillors.
ASJ candidates also won the elections held for the posts of student representatives to the Gender Sensitisation Committee against Sexual Harassment (GS-CASH).
Charu Nivedha from SFI won the post of post-graduate representative to GSCASH by a margin of 42 votes, while Tinanjali Dam of SFI won the post of integrated studies representative by a margin of 148 votes. Manjula from ASA was elected unopposed to the post of research scholars’ representative to the GSCASH.
The elections saw a turnout of 75 per cent, with a total of 3846 votes being cast. Polling was held on September 21.
The ABVP’s defeat in HCU is the latest instance of the RSS-affiliated organisation biting the dust in a central university this year. ABVP had been defeated in the students union elections in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Delhi University earlier this month, with the United Left and NSUI respectively emerging victorious. SFI had won the students union elections in the vast majority of colleges and universities in Kerala and Tripura this year, while it made inroads into several higher educational institutions in Rajasthan.
SFI and ASA have come together in HCU elections after six years, the last time being in 2011-12. The organisations which are part of the ASJ had earlier been part of the united movement following the death of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula in January 2016. The movement had won the solidarity of students and others across the country.
The grand alliance this year was forged in the context of the increasing attacks led by the RSS-BJP-ABVP against public universities in India. Within HCU in the last one year, there were moves by the administration to unilaterally change the Students’ Union constitution, and several proctorial enquiries were instituted against the union office-bearers as part of the attempt to clamp down on the students’ movement.
The elections also saw a controversy regarding whether the Students Islamic Organisation (SIO), the students’ wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami, should be part of the ASJ or not.
While the ASA said that the SIO is part of the alliance, the SFI opposed the inclusion of the Islamist fundamentalist organisation, insisting that it will not support any candidate of the SIO. Subsequently the SIO put up two candidates in the school councillor posts, against whom SFI fielded its own candidates. The SFI candidates emerged victorious by comfortable margins.