In a new move, the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) on Wednesday protested outside the Dean of Students (DoS) office demanding that the administration conduct elections in the campus. The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has not conducted elections for the past four years to which the union hit out at the administration for allegedly delaying the student body elections.

One of the most prestigious universities, JNU held its last union elections in 2019. The 2020 and 2021 elections could not be held due to the COVID pandemic.

Jawaharlal Nehru University Vice-Chancellor Shantashri Pandit had reportedly said that the union elections will be held after the completion of the admission process. However, speaking to The Citizen Aishe Ghosh, President of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students said that the administration does not want to hold the elections to “implement its own agenda”.

“The admin is derailing it and wants to postpone until the General elections of 2024. This shows that it fears the student community. The BJP-RSS in a planned way wants to destroy democratic rights of the student community,” Ghosh said.

She alleged that after the pandemic was over, “the university administration through a delayed admission process have made a situation to derail the election in the context that three different academic calendars were being brought into place”.

“The JNU Administration’s stand towards delaying elections clearly shows that it wants the student community to suffer without representatives and not provide representation to students in important Meetings like Academic Council, IHA, Health, Security and others,” Ghosh added.

While Delhi University will hold the DU Students Union (DUSU) elections on September 22, preparations for which have already started, the JNUSU is demanding the right to hold elections.

On asking whether the delayed elections have affected the working of the union, Ghosh replied in the affirmative, averring that despite the student union picking up issues, there has been some visible affect in the functioning.

“A lot of departments don't have student councillor representatives. School level meetings, board of studies, academic council are not having representatives where important discussion about academic and campus issues are being taken. The hostel infrastructure issues, campus security issues and other important matters are getting derailed due to lack of representation,” said Ghosh.

She further said that despite the academic calendar, which started from August 16, the JNU Administration has not given any clarification regarding elections.

“Following the Supreme Court guidelines vis-a-vis JNU… the election of JNUSU for the academic session 2023-24 should be completed within 6-8 weeks of commencement of the academic session 2023-24, that is 16th August 2023, as per the academic calendar released by the JNU administration,” stated the communication given to the Dean of Students and signed by 16 organisations including those affiliated to the Left, like SFI and AISA; the NSUI, which is the student wing of the Indian National Congress; and the Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students’ Association. The representation has not been signed by the ABVP.

Meanwhile a statement by the organisations, including SFI, AISA, DSF and BASO, said, “The poster of the all-organisation meeting was released two days before the meeting, and the JNUSU gave the office-bearers of ABVP prior information. President of ABVP, Umesh Chandra Ajmeera, conveyed to the JNUSU President that ABVP would boycott the all-organisation meeting.”

The JNU Vice-Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit, on Monday had said, “How can we issue a notification (for election) without admissions taking place? We are a central university and we have to go as per the rules. All students have to come in… MA results are also not out yet.

“Legally, there is no JNUSU now. There is no Union, so who will hold the GBM (general body meeting that is to be held ahead of the election)? The administration cannot do anything till admissions are over.”

The V-C added that the GBM "must represent all students”. “Elections will be conducted as per rules and SC-approved Lyngdoh recommendations,” she said.

A delegation of the student wings that signed the communication met the Dean of Students Monday and asked for a response in 48 hours. “As per the existing norms and procedure followed by JNU to conduct JNUSU election after 2012, the Dean of Students releases a notification initiating the student union elections as per the JNUSU constitution, relevant Supreme Court Orders, and past practice as followed till the JNUSU Elections 2019-20,” the written representation noted.