The 2018 election of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union witnessed a massive turnout of 67.8 percent, nine percentage points higher than the previous year and the highest since 2012. The candidates of the Left Unity alliance—made up of the All India Students Association, Students Federation of India, Democratic Students Federation and All India Students’ Federation—won all four posts in the central panel and a majority of posts in the student council. The RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad lost all the polls for the top posts. In an unprecedented sequence of events for a university that has rarely seen violence in its student elections, the counting of votes was halted for close to 14 hours, after members of the ABVP disrupted proceedings.
Even after the result was announced, the ABVP-led violence continued. According to the newly elected president of the students’ union, N Sai Balaji, a few hours after the result was announced, a group of over 25 ABVP members attacked two students at JNU’s Sutlej hostel and Jhelum lawns respectively. Balaji said that when he and former president of the union, Geeta Kumari, reached the Jhelum lawns, the student was unconscious and a PCR van was already present. “I was threatened by the mob,” said Balaji. “I was shocked and fearing my safety.” He says they have filed a police complaint regarding the attack but that it hasn’t been reported as a FIR yet.
The first sign of trouble appeared during the presidential debate on 12 September 2018, when scuffles broke out between supporters of the ABVP and the Left alliance. Polling, however, proceeded smoothly on 14 September. Counting began in Building 1 of the School of International Studies around 10 pm that same night.