However, there is no plan for a political mobilization of the students against Lyngdoh or the Supreme Court notice at this crucial juncture, and this is a cause of concern. Various organizations, including the pseudo-left SFI and ‘radical’ AISA has maintained a calculated silence on this issue. They have argued that the student community should not be informed for this would create a “panic situation”, let alone mobilizing the campus community to defend our democratic space. Both AISA and SFI believe that by remaining silent on the issue and not confronting the reality will save us from this onslaught. By doing so, they are not only fooling themselves, but also abdicating their responsibility to lead the students against the very real danger of an interim stay to the present election process. We believe that this IS a dire situation! The case will be handled by a bench notorious for giving some of the most reactionary judgments in recent memory. It is a distinct possibility that the JNUSU elections might be either stayed, or conducted according to the Lyngdoh recommendations. Earlier, the scuttling of OBC reservations, the scrapping of the offer system by the administration, and also the coming of a Nestle outlet to campus was possible because the student community was kept in the dark by the JNUSU leadership of that time. The same applies to this attempt by the state to crush the student movement in JNU. The life-blood of the JNUSU, the JNU students’ movement has always been the students. Political organizations sitting in closed door meetings have decided to withhold information from the larger student community, but this approach of surrender and compromise cannot effectively combat the threat of Lyngdoh.
The Lyngdoh Committee recommendations are highly regressive and against democratic functioning of students’ unions, because it justifies and allows for administrative control of students' elections. The fixing of eligibility criteria will result in a pro-administration and depoliticized union, for a functional union can never follow such parameters set by the university administration. The administration will have the power to cancel an elected candidate if he/she is found to have academic arrears or insufficient attendance. Students with disciplinary action against them cannot contest. Students who stand up to the establishment regularly have disciplinary action and false cases against them. Academic performance of students will also be a factor in their candidature being accepted. These and numerous other provisions constitute a frontal attack on the politicization and autonomy of student politics.
The context of the Lyngdoh Committee: The World Bank and its cronies are aggressively pushing for privatization of education. The Birla-Ambani Report on Higher Education clearly identifies student politics as the primary impediment to privatization of education. A politicized and militant student body is a stumbling block for neo-liberal policies; Lyngdoh is designed to depoliticize students and crush consciously articulated political dissent and opposition.
Lyngdoh claims to be a champion of democratic space for students, directed only against money and muscle power. It is deeply disturbing that this claim has been accepted so uncritically by “progressive” “left” organizations. A stated aim of the Lyngdoh recommendations is to do away with or at least limit the ‘unnecessary’ politicization of student bodies. JNU has a history of struggles against fee-hikes and privatization, struggles led by a politicized students union. Had it not been for the presence of a political JNUSU with clear ideological affiliations with left movements, this university would have been privatized a decade ago and many of us would not have been able to afford an education in JNU.
The claim of combating money and muscle power is a smoke screen. It is a pretext for the state to control dissent among students. It is the student wings of ruling class parliamentary parties that use money and muscle: the NSUI, ABVP, SFI (where their parent party is in power) and so on. Student politics is also a reflection of the larger politics. Administrations have nearly unlimited punitive power even without Lyngdoh; the fact is that these punitive powers are not used against ruling class elements, but students and organizations that stand against the establishment. The JNU administration chose not to punish those found guilty of the presidential debate violence, while students protesting for workers rights were served suspension notices the day after they confronted the Registrar. So if the JNU administration or any administration is given more powers, who will they be used against??
The use of money and muscle continues in numerous places despite Lyngdoh; because powerful ruling class student organizations can easily buy and beat their way around Lyngdoh and indeed any other law. It is the dissenting student voices that face a crackdown. In JNU if elections are free and fair, it is not because of some code of conduct but because the student body rejects lurid shows of wealth and power. The only answer to the criminalization of student politics is a further politicization of student politics and NOT the regulation of student politics by the state or the admibistration. We must collectively fight the imposition of the Lyngdoh recommendations, not just in JNU but in every other campus.