JNUSU elections: Why you cannot count out JNU's youngest left student union, BASO

This is the second time that BASO is facing the polls. It is, however, not part of any major political alliances. This is why they're stopping at three seats
BASO's candidates
BASO's candidates

The Bhagat Singh Ambedkar Students Organisation (BASO) is probably the youngest left-leaning student political organisation in JNU. Formed in 2016 by former students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, three of BASO's members are fighting the 2019 JNUSU elections. But here's an interesting fact. Unlike other left parties, BASO isn't part of any alliance. 

The three candidates are Apeksha Priyadarshini, who is pursuing her PhD in Cinema Studies, contesting for the post of councillor from the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Manya Dikshit, a II year MA Sociology student, contesting for the post of councillor from the School of Social Sciences and Albert Bansala, a PhD scholar, contesting for the councillor post from the School of Computational and Integrative Sciences. 

All three of them have been quite active in protests and fighting to resolve issues for a while now. But why exactly would they restrict themselves to just three seats? Why aren't they part of any major alliance? We had a few obvious questions which we posed to Apeksha. 

Excerpts from the conversation:

BASO isn't fighting for any Central Panel seats. What is the reason behind picking just three councillor seats?

Ours is the youngest left organisation. We feel that the Central panel is important, but the council is made up of a lot of councillors. Throughout the year, the councillors sort of becoming a decorative element. But in reality, their function is to meet students and find out their issues. Hence we decided that since this is the second time that we're facing the polls, we thought we should focus on schools so that whatever protests and issues happen, the student community is mobilised. The way the activists are penalised, students are getting wary of raising their voices. So we need to instill that confidence among the students. The President and others may not be able to reach out to every student, but the councillors can. It's important to be part of the council and negotiate the decisions. 

All the other left-leaning organisations, SFI, AISF, AISA and DSF have formed the United left alliance. It was quite surprising to not find BASO there. Why did you choose to not be part of any alliance?

We feel that in the past three years, there has been no inspiring leadership from the left. Every time the size of the alliance increases, the kind of criticisms that should take place isn't happening. No one wants to antagonise the ally. On the other hand, as an independent party, we'll be able to negotiate and give an objective alternative much more effectively. We're fighting only on those schools, where the ABVP's presence is also not so strong. We have chosen schools very consciously. We're getting councillors who are critical and have fought before. It's high time, we rethink our strategies. Our organisation has no mother party, but we still participate in protests and we work within the campus. That makes the politics of our organisation different. 

Have you felt that your agenda is similar to the ones that the other organisations have?

There are so many organisations (in JNU) who fight for the same cause. But here's how we are different. For instance, consider Rosina Nasir's case. She was targeted by the administration for about two years. She was targetted on the basis of her gender and religion. When she questioned it, she was told that her fate will be similar to that of Najeeb's mother and that she should go. Nothing was being done. But as an organisation, we felt that something had to be done. We took out a statement of solidarity for her and then a few other organisations, JNUSU and the JNUTA took it up. That created pressure. Finally, her salary was released. It' s about the issues we prioritise. We focus on the issues faced by the most marginalised and underprivileged. We're fighting for a more democratic space. We still go to every protest Fatima Nafis puts up. We raise the issues that are forgotten.

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