Students at in front of Counting centre in JNU campus before JNU election result 2018.
The results of the closely-watched students’ union election at Delhi’s prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University are most likely to be announced on Sunday as counting of votes resumed after a day of violence and protest kept the university campus in the city’s south on the edge.
The counting of votes in the JNU student union polls was suspended for nearly 14 hours on Saturday by election authorities citing ‘forcible entry’ and ‘attempts to snatch away ballot boxes’ at the counting venue after ABVP staged protests claiming that it was not informed about the process.
The counting, which was suspended at 4 am, resumed at 6.30 pm after two teachers from the Grievance Redressal Cell were appointed as observers for the exercise, officials said.
“Election Committee had resumed counting process at 6.30 pm. Counting agents for central panel for combined science schools and special centre remain same. Observers of the election committee will testify for the transparency in which the ballots were counted,” the Election Committee said.
Sources said the counting process for the councillor posts has finished and the counting process for central panel posts of one school is over. The results will be announced on Sunday.
According to figures available, the Left and the ABVP are locked in a close fight on the central panel posts of president, vice president, secretary and joint secretary with the Left leading the ABVP on all the posts.
This was not before high drama through the day as the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) which is the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), clashed with members of the Left parties in the afternoon.
While the ABVP accused the members of Left parties of assaulting its members and perpetrating violence and endangering the culture of democracy, the Left levelled similar allegations against them and also accused them of occupying the counting centre.
The CRPF was deployed in the campus area after counting was halted in the morning.
However, the ABVP said the Left parties were scared of their strength this time and were spreading a propaganda against them.
The deadlock at the Jawaharlal Nehru University persisted till evening with the ABVP accusing the election authorities of bias towards the Left outfits and threatening to move court.
The election committee, however, issued a statement saying, “A malicious lie is being spread on social media and among students that the Election Committee had not made three announcements and went forth with the entry of the counting agents for post of Central Panel for combined schools and Special Centres.”
The committee would like to clearly state three announcement calls were made (with the third call announced as the last and final call and communicated to the students gathered outside the counting venue) via loudspeaker, the committee said.
“After that, the election committee members informed the security guards about it and asked them to gather any counting agents… Fourteen counting agents for ten different candidates had reported at the counting venue. After this, counting process had started and sealed boxes were opened in the presence of the counting agents,” it said.
As per the established norms, no new counting agents can enter the counting venue, once the seal of the boxes is opened.
“The Election Committee (EC) had to reject the request of new counting agents being allowed inside that respective counting venue. A few students had forcibly entered the building and reached the counting venue, thus we had to suspend the counting process,” it said.
The panel also claimed that their members, including women, faced intimidation.
President of ABVP-JNU unit Vijay Kumar said they will not hesitate to approach the Delhi High Court if they do not get justice.
“Counting of votes is being done without adhering to the rules. The EC is not following even the bare minimum requirements of election procedure…The biased way of handling elections has put a question mark on EC’s neutrality. “We have approached the Grievance Redressal Cell to seek justice. We will not hesitate to proceed to the Delhi High Court if we don’t get justice,” he added.
The Grievance Redressal Cell is a body comprising the varsity’s professors which addresses election related complaints.
The ABVP claimed their counting agent was not informed about the beginning of counting of votes polled in science schools.
The Left bloc claimed that “around 4 am, ABVP broke the glasses of the School of International Studies building”. They also claimed the ABVP counting agent was called but he did not turn up on time.
“We protested peacefully as the EC is biased towards the Left. We did not create any ruckus,” he said.
The voter turnout in the keenly contested JNUSU election on Friday was 67.8 percent, believed to be the highest in six years. Over 5,000 students cast their votes.
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 the Left bloc, there are candidates of ABVP, NSUI (National Students’ Union of India) and BAPSA (Birsa Ambedkar Phule Students Association).
Technical glitches in EVMs had marred the counting process for Delhi University Students’ Union polls on Thursday, leading to its suspension for close to three hours.
Meanwhile, the ABVP and the Left parties indulged in a blame game on Saturday as they accused each other of roughing up their members in the JNU with the Left even alleging that attempt was made to kidnap one of their woman members outside the university.
The ABVP claimed that their members were assaulted between 5-6 pm by members of the Left bloc.
“We were 25 in number and they were 250 in number. They assaulted one of our members and he is currently in a hospital. Some of their women members even tore the clothes of some of our women members,” the ABVP claimed.
On the other hand, the Left members accused the ABVP members of attacking them in the evening and making an attempt to kidnap them around 10.30 pm.
“While coming from the police station after registering complaint against the goons of ABVP who violently attacked us today, a car with four men from which two men with handkerchief tied on their face came with belt, started beating us from all corners,” alleged a woman member of the Left bloc.
She claimed they were armed.
Meanwhile, the Left also claimed the ABVP members were stationed inside the campus armed with sticks, a charge denied by the ABVP.
Police said they are stationed at all the gates of the campus and the counting is underway inside.
They denied receiving any complaints so far.