“SFI-JNU Unit will carry forward the legacy of Study and Struggle and continue to function in the name of SFI-JNU and retain its adherence to the SFI Programme and Constitution.”
- “SFI-JNU” Pamphlet dated 10 July 2012
- “SFI-JNU” Pamphlet dated 10 July 2012
“SFI-JNU will continue to abide by the SFI All-India Programme and Constitution”
- “Resolution Passed in SFI-JNU Unit GBM Held on 13 July 2012” (“SFI-JNU” Release dated 14 July 2012)
“SFI-JNU Unit will attempt to initiate political dialogue with all CEC members, State Committees and primary units of the SFI on the basis of these questions. Feedback received from SFI units across the country will be collated and presented before the Conference of the SFI-JNU Unit, which will be held before the end of the monsoon semester, i.e. by November 2012. All members of the SFI-JNU Unit will have an opportunity to voice their opinions in the Conference. After due deliberations, the Conference of the SFI-JNU Unit will take a final decision on the question of larger organizational affiliation.”
- “Resolution passed in SFI JNU unit EC on 4 August 2012” (“SFI-JNU” Release dated 5 August 2012)
What happened to these promises that the “SFI-JNU” leadership gave to its members?
The formation of the outfit “DSF” puts an end to the six-month long dilly-dallying on the part of “SFI-JNU” leaders. It is the culmination of the drama played out by these leaders in their betrayal of the members of “SFI-JNU”. As we have pointed out earlier as well, the first part of the tactics of the leaders of “SFI-JNU” has been to free ride on the political legacy of the SFI in this campus by making use of its name and by claming to adhere to the programme and constitution of SFI. True to “SFI-JNU”‘s nature as a bourgeois factional outfit, the other part of this survival tactics was to remain subservient to the ruling classes (and their lackey on campus, the JNU administration) by furthering the ruling class agenda of attacking the organised Left. Questions from many students regarding the political identity of “SFI-JNU” were addressed by its leaders by claiming that the decision regarding organisational affiliation would be taken at a later date suited to their opportunist politics. This tactic aimed at confusing genuine SFI sympathisers on the one hand, while on the other hand cornering a share of the anti-SFI, anti-organised Left polarisation (which includes the right-wing) in the campus, of which the biggest beneficiary so far was the AISA. During the membership campaign of “SFI-JNU” in the last semester, they shamelessly handed out membership slips with “Students’ Federation of India – Jawaharlal Nehru University unit” written on them, while the fact was that the SFI’s unit in JNU was yet to be formed at that time after the disruption that occurred in July 2012. Clearly this was done to take along a few students who were misinformed about the organisational affiliation of the outfit. Many such members were told that they would be rejoining SFI after the elections. The leaders of the outfit even tried to mislead the students by claiming that the struggle was between the “real” SFI and the “official” SFI.
All through these times, the SFI took a principled position that the leaders who had left SFI had pursued a wrong and divisive line at the SFI GBM on 5 July 2012, and that the Unit Organising Committee (UOC) would work to bring about a political unity within the organisation.
The Formation of DSF
The tactics of “SFI-JNU” – that of free riding on SFI’s political legacy while pursuing the ruling class agenda of attacking the organised Left (which was AISA’s forte all these years) – continued in the JNUSU elections as well. Following their partial success in the JNUSU elections, the disruptors who led “SFI-JNU” took their deviations to a logical conclusion and went on to form the new bourgeois outfit, named “Democratic Students’ Federation”. The genuine SFI sympathisers who were still with “SFI-JNU” and who did not find any political or programmatic reason to be out of SFI were taken for a ride, and were voted out “democratically” while forming the outfit and naming it “DSF”. This outfit is, of course, a puppet in the hands of a handful of bourgeois disruptors who had undergone right-wing deviations (exemplified by the erroneous positions they adopted when a Nestle outlet came up in JNU, and when the Singur-Nandigram debates were on in the campus), and who rediscovered the virtues of petty-bourgeois radicalism as an opportunist tactic to win elections.
The “bosses” of “SFI-JNU”, of course, have every right to decide their future course of action. But they have a political and moral responsibility to ask their representatives to resign from the posts they won in the JNUSU elections by deceiving the JNU students while claiming to adhere to the programme and constitution of SFI. SFI appeals to the progressive, democratic sections of the student community to see through the latest avatar of ruling class politics that is DSF, and vows to carry forward the political fight to isolate the disruptors.
Revive the Fighting Traditions of the Students’ Movement
In terms of the balance of political forces in the JNU campus, the developments since 2007 have meant a weakening of the JNU students’ movement vis-à-vis the administration, as demonstrated by the sheer volume of anti-student moves on its part during this period. An important component of the fight to change this correlation of forces is the fight against the restrictions imposed on our elections as per the Lyngdoh Committee Recommendations (LCR). The organisations that lead the current JNUSU had contested the elections promising to fight against LCR, but no steps have been taken in this regard so far. Unsurprisingly, DSF, the latest avatar of ruling class politics in JNU, has come up with a formulation with a dangerous resonance to that of the Lyngdoh formulations. While Lyngdoh wanted to “disassociate student elections and student representation from political parties”, DSF has made the ridiculous claim that they have “identified the shackles of political parties as the biggest reason for the stagnation in the student movement in India” (DSF release dated 26.01.2013), thus advancing the ruling class-Lyngdoh agenda of the depoliticisation of campuses. Reviving the fighting traditions of the students’ movement, in other words, calls for the rejection of the bourgeois politics peddled by the likes of DSF.
No More Delay! Provide Alternative Accommodation to All Students without Hostels NOW!!
Eleven days after the protest demo called by “Students without Hostels”, the JNUSU held another protest demonstration at the Dean of Students’ Office on Tuesday, 29 January. The Dean had agreed on 18 January that he would discuss with the Vice-Chancellor the feasibility of using the Old South Asian University (SAU) building to provide accommodation to students who haven’t got hostels till now, and that he would inform student representatives about the status of the initiative by 23 February. But the deadline given by him went by, with the Dean getting away saying that he had not talked to the VC at all. After Tuesday’s protest, the Dean extended the waiting game, and said that by the 31 January evening, he along with the Rector and the VC would survey the Old SAU building and come up with a conclusive reply. But true to the callous attitude of the administration, this promise has been broken as well. The student community needs to be vigilant against the lies and false promises meted out to them and intensify their struggle. The extent of anger of the students is so much that within 24 hours around a thousand signatures were collected on a mass petition to the VC demanding immediate alternative accommodation along with mess and transport facilities. The battle has begun, and students are ready for a spirited fight to ensure that the urgent demand of alternative accommodation is met, and to force the administration to begin the construction of new hostels immediately.
What is the Status of the MCM Report?
Based on the huge increase in living expenses during the past six years since the last increase in MCM scholarships, the demand of the student community during the agitation in the last semester was that the MCM amount should be doubled, from Rs.1500 to Rs.3000. The final agreement of the JNUSU with the administration said, “The University will take up this matter with the UGC as well as other agencies to generate funds for increasing the MCM fellowship amount up to Rs.3000/- from the next semester. The University will convey the status report regarding this matter in January 2013.” But no concrete steps are known to have been taken by the administration even as the student community has been bearing the burden of a 33% increase in mess bills, as a result of the increased prices of essential commodities, increase in LPG prices and the cap in the number of subsidised LPG cylinders.
Parroting the administration’s hollow commitments regarding these and other demands including restoring the progressive character of the admission policy, the JNUSU had talked about its agreement with the administration in terms of “a step forward”, “substantial advance” and so on. It had promised that it would wage an agitation to ensure that the administration keeps its word regarding students’ demands (JNUSU pamphlet dated 3 November 2012), yet it has not even convened a JNUSU Council meeting in this semester.
Kopal, Secretary, SFI JNU Unit
Manu M R, President, SFI JNU Unit