Left, Ambedkarite and tribal organisations-led alliance won all the posts in the University of Hyderabad Students’ Union elections 2019 held on September 26. The alliance dethroned Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) from the students’ union.
In the results declared on Friday evening, Student Federation of India (SFI) candidate Abhishek Nandan is elected as president, who won with a majority of 1,110 votes defeating rival Phani Krishna representing ABVP. Nandan secured 2,205 votes, highest ever votes in the history of the campus elections, while Krishna got 1,095 votes.
This year, the main contest was between two alliances ASA-DSU-SFI-TSF and ABVP-Sevalal Dal-OBC Federation. SFI, Ambedkar Students Association (ASA), Dalit Students Union (DSU) and Tribal Students Forum (TSF) had formed a joint alliance for the union elections.
The students have outrightly rejected ABVP, as all the elected candidates got a majority of over 700 votes, says elected president Abhishek Nandan who is pursuing Ph.D. in Hindi. Speaking to NewsClick, he said “This union will fight against all the anti-student policies inside and outside the campus. The concerns of students from marginalised and oppressed communities in this public-funded university will be our main priority.”
M Sree Charan from DSU won the vice president post, Gopi Swamy from ASA became general secretary, Rathod Pradeep from TSF won to be the joint secretary, Sohel Ahmed from SFI won to be the sports secretary and Priyanka Badrasetty from ASA got elected as the cultural secretary. To the posts of student representatives to Internal Complaints Committee (Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment - GSCASH), Puttapaga Sai Sree From DSU, Kalaivani J from ASA and Indira Tayeng from SFI got elected as integrated, post-graduate and research scholars representatives respectively.
The alliance also won most of the school board member and councillor posts.
“This is a historical victory and the students have yet again asserted the notion that the campus will remain a democratic space for dissent, assertion and enlightenment. On behalf of DSU, we congratulate all the panelists for this thumping victory ...We have yet again asserted the power of progressive forces over the repressive fascist religious fundamentalists. Organisations that work on religious orthodoxy will be countered with great power to establish social justice and democracy,” stated DSU, after the victory.
SFI, along with alliance partners, had worked like a parallel union raising students’ issues during ABVP’s term, says Naveen Erram, SFI leader and research scholar in Political Science Department of the campus. Speaking to NewsClick, Erram said: “ABVP-led students’ union acted like a subordinate to the campus administration and failed to address the real issues of the students, which is clearly reflected in the form of massive mandate. Our alliance partners worked like a parallel union dealing students’ grievances from hostel issues to policy level matters. For instance, during summer vacation this year, the campus administration locked down all the hostels by forcefully vacating students who stayed back for preparing for competitive exams and other reasons. At that time, while ABVP remained toothless, the Left and ambedkarite organisations held relentless protests and got the hostels reopened.”
Other contestants in the elections were newly formed Youth for Inclusive and Sustainable Society (YISS), alliance of Muslim Students Federation (MSF) and Fraternity, All India Students Federation (AISA) and Bahujan Students Front (BSF). YISS fielded four candidates for the main panel including the posts of president, vice president, general secretary and joint secretary. MSF-Fraternity contested polls for president and general secretary posts; BSF contested for sports secretary post and AISA for cultural secretary and GSCASH (PG).
Last year, ABVP-Sevalal Dal-OBCF alliance candidates were elected to all the posts in the students’ union. In 2017, SFI and ASA-led alliance was elected to the students’ union.
University of Hyderabad is one of the premier institutes in the country which has been a politically vibrant campus since its inception. In January 2016, a Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula from ASA had committed suicide who was then protesting against a targeted suspension of five Dalit students including him. This incident outraged university students leading to a students’ movement led by all organisations except ABVP in the campus. The movement has resounded across the country with dissent and debates on the state of marginalised community students in higher education.