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JNUSU elections: Will Red Walls go Saffron again?

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Sagar Set

by Sagar Sethi

Almost everything in JNU takes a backseat as reading party manifestos and hearing names of those who contest become a part of daily life. The candidates contesting this year’s JNUSU election are routinely campaigning in classes, while their parchas do the same for them in JNU’s hostels.

Amidst this politically nuanced ambiance, a press conference was held on September 3 at the Teflas Building where the student parties contesting this year released their press statements. Let’s hear what they have to say!

ABVP’s Presidential candidate Gaurav Kumar Jha asserts, “Virodh Nahi Vikaas (Progress Not Protest).” Aiming to ‘Lead the Change…’, he promises, the focus this year would be on ‘better infrastructure’, ‘women-friendly campus,’ ‘enhanced placement cell,’ the much needed amelioration of ‘health-hygiene facilities,’ among other campus issues.

In its press release, ABVP claims to recognize the ‘uncertainty…and genuine frustration’ among students who are deprived of hostel accommodation; and holds AISA led JNUSU responsible for it.
As Gaurav Kumar Jha tells us “Ninety crores of unutilized funds have been sent back to the government, by AISA. Why?” Regarding this as a gross mismanagement of University affairs, he suggests, the prime focus would be on immediate campus issues.

Shehla and Vijay Kumar AISA

Although this agenda seems to strike chords with the student community, fear regarding its gender-sexuality model looms large; so what does ABVP’s women-friendly campus really mean?
Seeing the rise of ABVP as a threat to gender empowerment, the Democratic Students Federation’s (DSF) Presidential candidate K. Fayaz Ahmad tell us “it’s unfortunate that today AISA’s zero-performance union, unable to resolve basic student accommodation and sanitation issues, is the reason behind saffron’s uprising in our campus.”

DSF’s press statement reads, “ABVP has been conducting a vicious campaign implementing moral policing and surveillance.” This year DSF promises to struggle against the ‘neo-liberal and saffron authoritarian’ forces and alongside, tackle campus issues involving hygiene and sanitation. As far as these issues go DSF’s Fayaz says, ‘ABVP kabhi bhi AISA ka replacement nahi ban sakta.’ There is a need to contemplate, he further says, what all is in stock with ABVP if it comes to power.

Split from SFI’s JNU unit, DSF was formed out of the conviction that Left politics among students must be autonomous. Founding member of DSF Roshan Kishore tells us “the watershed was 2007 Singur Nandigram, and for anybody with a Left worldview it became difficult to justify the violence on CPI (M)’s behalf.”

Gaurav Kumar Jha ABVP

Interestingly, this year rivals DSF and SFI attempted to form an electoral alliance. The endeavor failed as both parties could not resolve their differences on the Presidential candidate’s post.
Running for the post of Vice President, AISA’s Shehla Rashid condemns DSF for its opportunist politics. AISA’s Presidential candidate Vijay Kumar does well to highlight the pro-student policy level changes that the outgoing AISA led JNUSU has made last year.

Among the promises made by AISA this year a few include, ‘raising means cum merit scholarships’ for the students, pushing for the ‘effective functioning of the Translation Cell,’ to further its struggle against Lyngdoh, along with improving Wi-Fi, transport and hostel facilities.

Despite workers not having any say in JNU’s electoral politics, AISA emphasizes on their rights including mandatory wages. On the other hand, AISA fails to establish a fully functional placement cell for JNU’s students.

All Parties' Presidential Candidates
All Parties’ Presidential Candidates

“AISA’s President Ashutosh Kumar personally threw all job opportunities from Exxon-mobile out of the placement cell,” says ABVP’s Gaurav Kumar Jha. While worker’s rights are a sensitive issue, unemployment among JNU pass-outs is a reality today. Perhaps the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) may resolve this.

SFI’s Presidential candidate Paritosh Nath feels that “our country is going through undeclared emergency…where all voices of dissent against BJP or RSS are being actively suppressed.”
SFI’s press release promises to intrinsically relate its campus struggles ‘to the larger struggle against the Modi government’s agenda of saffronisation, privatization and commercialization of education.’

“We always have to relate macro policies to the micro picture,” says SFI’s Paritosh Nath. Owing to AISA’s failures to curb the rise of ABVP, he further says, SFI struggles this year to revive the fighting legacy of JNU’s student movement. Will the Students’ Federation of India own up to the cause or will its rivalry with DSF come in their way? This September 11 the students of JNU will decide.

By and large all left parties fear the ‘DU-isation’ that comes along with RSS backed ABVP, if it comes to power. Despite internal disputes among AISA, DSF, SFI, their struggles are in unison against the saffronisation of JNU students’ politics.

Will a divided Left give way to ABVP’s flight this 9/11? The question looms large.

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US President Donald Trump Again Slams Google for Manipulating 2016 Election

Trump and fellow Republicans have accused tech giants including Google of bias against conservative viewpoints

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US, President, Donald Trump
President Donald Trump listens during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, July 16, 2019, in Washington. VOA

US President Donald Trump has once again lashed out at Google for manipulating millions of votes in the 2016 presidential elections in favour of then Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

“Wow, Report Just Out! Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election! This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued. My victory was even bigger than thought,” Trump tweeted late Monday.

However, the report Trump mentioned in his tweet was published in 2017 that described there was a bias in Google and other search engines during the run-up to the 2016 elections.

Trump’s tweet citing an old research paper also tagged conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch with his tweet, “perhaps asking them to investigate. It’s also unclear who he thinks should sue the company”, reports TechCrunch.

In a statement, Google said: “This researcher’s inaccurate claim has been debunked since it was made in 2016. As we stated then, we have never re-ranked or altered search results to manipulate political sentiment.”

Clinton also responded to Trump: “The debunked study you’re referring to was based on 21 undecided voters. For context that’s about half the number of people associated with your campaign who have been indicted.”

google, online tracking
A man walks past a Google sign outside with a span of the Bay Bridge at rear in San Francisco, May 1, 2019. VOA

The paper was published by Robert Epstein, a psychology researcher who works for the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology and testified before the US Senate Judiciary Committee in June.

The CNBC reported that “Trump’s tweet appears to refer to documents leaked to conservative group Project Veritas, but the documents do not appear to contain any outright allegation of vote manipulation or attempts to bias the election”.

Earlier this month, Trump criticized Google CEO Sundar Pichai for alleged ties to election tampering and China’s military.

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“@sundarpichai of Google was in the Oval Office working very hard to explain how much he liked me, what a great job the Administration is doing, that Google was not involved with China’s military, that they didn’t help Crooked Hillary over me in the 2016 Election,” he had tweeted.

Trump and fellow Republicans have accused tech giants including Google of bias against conservative viewpoints. (IANS)