Pragoti has been tracking the political developments in Jawaharlal Nehru University over the past year. SFI-JNU, a rebel student organisation that was formed following the dissolution of the erstwhile SFI unit in the campus has over the year, won the president's post in the JNUSU elections and has, also since, involved in the formation of a new initiative for a joint struggle platform of Progressive, Democratic and Left forces. SFI-JNU has now resolved to form a new student organisationon the basis of a set of principles.This blogpost carries that message (also hosted at their website).
SFI-JNU came into being after the SFI-CPI (M) leadership dissolved the SFI Unit in JNU in July 2012 for voicing its public dissent over the unprincipled decision of the CPI (M) to support Congressman Pranab Mukherjee in the presidential elections. The Left was divided on the issue with the CPI and RSP deciding to abstain in the elections. The dissolution of an entire organizational unit in a campus was an unprecedented and undemocratic move which evoked widespread protest and condemnation from progressive and democratic sections. It was in this context that we decided to form SFI-JNU, pursue principled and non-sectarian Left politics and continue our struggle on student issues. Despite vicious political attacks and slander from certain quarters, SFI-JNU received widespread support from the student community in its endeavors, including in the JNUSU elections.
SFI-JNU had raised three basic questions vis-à-vis the SFI leadership and all other student organizations in course of the debate following its inception:
Whether a university campus based unit has a right to adopt positions on major national and international issues?
Whether student organizations would have autonomy to act in an independent manner, or would they be reduced to mere student fronts of political parties?
Would student organizations be allowed to express dissent or differences on decisions of political parties, which are against the interests of the broader progressive and democratic movement?
While raising these questions, SFI-JNU had also resolved to adopt a non-sectarian outlook and stand in solidarity with all genuine people’s struggles being waged across the country. In the course of last six months, SFI-JNU has firmly adhered to its commitment. It was the SFI-JNU led JNUSU which took the lead in forging a broad based unity among students, teachers, women’s organizations and other civil society groups to build a vibrant movement against the heinous gang rape of a 23 year old student in Delhi last month.
On the basis of these experiences, SFI-JNU has decided to organize a Conference on 24-25 January 2013 in JNU to form a new student organization, which will uphold and carry forward the same principles. The Executive Committee of SFI-JNU has already made public the draft Programme and Constitution of the new organization (available at http://www.sfijnuweb.wordpress.com
), which would be finalized and adopted after deliberations in the Conference. Three names have been proposed for the new organization – (a) Students’ Federation (b) Progressive Students’ Federation and (c) Democratic Students’ Federation. The name of the new organization would be finalised on the basis of a Referendum in the Conference. SFI-JNU appeals to the student community to participate in this exercise in large numbers, join the new student organization and contribute towards building a progressive, democratic, united and vibrant student movement.
The forthcoming Conference will also discuss and deliberate on the issues confronting the JNU student movement. The agreement between the JNUSU and the JNU administration during the last agitation must be fulfilled in letter and spirit. The struggle for enhancing MCM scholarships to Rs 3000, building more hostels, ensuring deprivation points for Muslim minority students and reduction of viva-voce weightage marks has to be carried to its logical conclusion. The JNUSU should also continue its interventions in the ongoing struggle for making gender just laws and preserving the autonomy of GSCASH. The struggle for restoration of JNUSU Constitution against the Lyngdoh Recommendations should also be taken up.
These struggles cannot be seen in isolation from the larger political situation. The neoliberal Congress-led government at the Centre is pushing anti-people policies in an aggressive manner. After allowing FDI in retail trade and raising railway fares, now they have deregulated diesel prices, which would imply all-round increase in prices of food and transportation. In JNU mess bills have increased by more than 500 rupees in the past few months, hurting the student community. The vulgar sycophancy over Rahul Gandhi’s “elevation” in Congress’ Chintan Shivir in Jaipur only brings forth the degeneration of the ruling party and also its disconnect with the aspirations of the students and youth. The same self-styled youth icon Rahul Gandhi and his clique of “babalog” were not to be found when thousands of students and youth were braving tear gas and lathis in the protests after the Delhi gang rape.
The BJP cannot provide any better alternative to the corruption and anti-people policies of the Congress, since it shares the same neoliberal economic ideology. Moreover, the BJP subscribes to the communal-fascistic hindutva ideology of the RSS, whose dangers can be seen in the anti-Muslim pogroms against minorities in Gujarat in 2002 or the terror attacks perpetrated by groups like Abhinav Bharat. BJP’s projection of Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate or the re-nomination of the thoroughly corrupted Nitin Gadkari as its national president further exposes its communal and degenerate character.
What India needs today is a genuine progressive and democratic alternative to the Congress and the BJP. Unfortunately, the Left Parties under the leadership of the CPI (M) is unable to provide this alternative. That is because they continue to rely on opportunistic forces like the SP, BSP and other regional parties, which do not share any alternative policy vision. The recent vote in Loksabha on the FDI in retail issue has once again proved that the struggle against neoliberal policies cannot be waged by relying on forces like the SP, BSP etc. Moreover, the CPI (M) continues to indulge in doublespeak on neoliberal policies – opposing it at the Centre while supporting it in its strongholds, like West Bengal. CPI (M) Polit Bureau member Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee continues to openly bat for granting SEZ status to IT companies in West Bengal, in brazen violation the CPI (M)’s stated positions on SEZs. This is seriously eroding the credibility of the CPI (M).
It is in this context that SFI-JNU has associated itself with the process of bringing together like minded progressive, democratic and Left forces across the country in a common platform to wage uncompromising struggles for democracy, progressive alternative to neoliberal policies, social justice, secularism and unity against imperialism. Such a platform can only succeed in building broad-based peoples’ unity when it shuns sectarianism of the CPI (ML)-Liberation variety, whose sole motivation is to attack the CPI (M), and not build constructive struggles and movements. It is because of such narrow-minded sectarianism that the CPI (ML)-Liberation has also faced a steady decline in Bihar, where it was once a credible Left force.
The public meeting held in JNU on January 13, 2013 was a step in the direction of creating a broad-based platform of progressive, democratic and Left forces. In keeping with its understanding of preserving the autonomy of student organizations, the new student organization that will be formed after the Conference will be a partner in this common platform and not a student front of any particular organization.
We appeal to the students of JNU as well as other universities/educational institutions in Delhi to support our initiative and participate in the founding Conference of the new organization on 24-25 January 2013 in JNU.