The fall of the 25-year red bastion was greeted with total disbelief. Some students broke into tears and there was an immediate, albeit belated, consolidation of leftist forces. Different splinter groups, who till the other day were campaigning against each other, joined up to celebrate Batti Lals victory.
Many of them claimed the ABVP gained because the various Left student groups, including the SFI, AISF and AISA, fought separately. They won by default, Ellora, a PhD student of the School of International Studies said emphatically.. Some Leftists acknowledged that we lacked strategy.
Leaders of the left, which was split into five groups, agree that the movement needed a rethink. We needed this lesson. Left fragmentation was complete this time. How does a newcomer distinguish between five different groups, all chanting Lal Salam and saluting the red salute? asks an introspective leftist. It may also be a sign of the times, though. The campus, which has produced highly articulate leaders like Sitaram Yechury, has lost out on the quality of leadership and debate. Pranay, former JNU students union president and AISA (CPI-MLs student wing) ideologue, distinguishes between post-1990 and pre-1990 JNU, and cites the changed culture and background of the students as a reason for the right-wing victory.
The ABVP would make use of the victory to project itself as an organisation with an appeal for the intelligentsia, he said. They will dilute the culture of struggle.
We did not allow the Muslim vote to polarise this time, said a justifiably smug Pradeep Tandon, vice-president of the ABVP unit. Mandir was not raised at all.
Nationalism was the issue. Taking a dig at the ideology-spouting left, Tandon said there was no point in idle ideology. God is in the implementation. And he plans to focus on just that. The party would concentrate on solving students problems.
Reacting to the results, BJP leader Govindacharya, who had been working to strengthen the ABVP in the campus said: This is the indication that Indian enlightened youth is inspired by the fountain of Indian nationalism -- tht is Hindutva -- and they have discarded Marxism as well as marketism.
Although, as an SFI activist insists, its not a positive vote, the right wing ideology has gained in respectability. The ABVP has managed to bring its ideology on to the campus agenda. While the partys issues like Kashmir and nationalism, for instance used to be sidelined once, now they are part of the debate. Its stand on privatisation of education, which echoes the BJP line, is pitted against the Lefts antagonism towards any kind of private participation.
But the most important aspect revealed by the results known, but not shown for a long time is that the JNU has lost its island status. The campus has integrated with national politics. The ideology of every national party, from the Samata to the Shiv Sena, is represented here. Every section of the population has an echo the dalits, the OBCs, women. And every dirty trick in the book is played, too.
But can the parivar repeat this victory? Tandon is confident but, says Pranay, that will depend on how complacent we are. He feels the Left would consolidate and adds: JNU has a strange quality of self-revival.