JNU presidential debate : Student outfits battle it out on Manipur violence, CAA, electoral bonds

New Delhi, Mar 21 : Amid chants of 'Jai Bhim,' 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai,' and 'Lal Salam’, candidates vying for president's post in the upcoming JNU students' union elections, delivered passionate speeches on Wednesday night.
A large crowd of students gathered at the Jhelum Lawn to witness the highly anticipated presidential debate, setting the tone for the JNUSU polls scheduled for March 22.
The atmosphere was charged with the sound of ‘dhols’ and trumpets as students and supporters of different outfits cheered for their leaders and raised slogans before the debate began.
Retired Supreme Court Justice V Ramasubramanian presided over the debate to ensure fairness and transparency. Last week, he was appointed by the Delhi High Court as an observer for this year’s JNUSU elections.
Candidates from various student outfits addressed a range of issues, including Manipur violence, Citizenship (Amendment) Act, farmers' protests, electoral bonds, and Israel-Palestine conflict. They also raised university-related issues in their appeal to voters.
The debate began with a speech from the only female presidential candidate for the JNUSU elections, Aradhana Yadav from the Samajwadi Party's student wing.
Yadav spoke on campus safety, discrimination against women, among others and if elected, she promised to advocate for minority reservation and “deprivation points” – a means to help students from backward regions, especially women, take admission.
The United Left Alliance's presidential candidate, Dhananjay, initiated his speech with 'Lal Salam' and raised concerns about the increased fees due to Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) loans taken by universities. He also raised the issue of unemployment, commercialisation of education through the entry of foreign universities in India, among other issues.
Dhananjay pledged to tackle water, health, and infrastructure related issues on campus and demanded the release of student leaders detained under sedition charges.
RSS-affiliated ABVP's presidential candidate, Umesh Chandra Ajmira, expressed confidence of a victory in the polls and highlighted the developments under the student outfit's governance and its efforts in advocating for student rights.
NSUI's candidate Junaid Raza and BAPSA's Biswajit Minji also delivered impassioned speeches, criticising both the Left and right-wing groups and appealed to the students community to vote for them.
Several leaders' speeches were marred by disruptions by some students during the debate. The university's Election Committee later confiscated the drums and other instruments used to create disruption.
The JNUSU polls will be held on March 22 and results will be declared on March 24.