BAPSA; A phenomenon that is fading away?

BAPSA (Birse Ambedkar Phule Students Association) started in JNU as an alternative which is neither to the right nor left and claimed to uphold social justice through oppressed unity. Looking at BAPSA’s performance in 2018, it is becoming crystal clear that it’s clout is fading away and it is failing to woo the voters. Despite it’s claim that it got it’s first electoral victory this year by winning a councillor post in the School of Arts and Aesthetics (SAA), BAPSA is losing its ground. The fact that total votes polled in SAA is less than 100 is to be noted. BAPSA could not make any impact in the schools of SSS, SIS and SL where 1325, 879 and 1764 votes were polled respectively.

A closer look at the votes BAPSA got in the last three years, it can be easily concluded that the students community has lost its faith in BAPSA.

In Votes


2017 2018








Gen. Secretary




Joint Secretary

608 860


In Percentage


2017 2018




Vice President




Gen. Secretary




Joint Secretary




The huge loss of votes in the presidential category which is the most important post shows that BAPSA must introspect its politics to build its base in the campus.

The total votes in 2017 was 4639 and BAPSA president candidate got 935 which was 20.15%. This year the turn out increased to 5185 and BAPSA candidate got only 675 votes which amounts to only 13.01% of the total votes polled. This shows a shocking reduction of 7% votes. If the loss was only in the category of the presidentiall post, it could have been interpreted as a lack of charisma in the candidate but the table shows that it is true for the other posts as well. There is a reduction of 7%, 3% and 5% for vice president, general secretary and joint secretary posts respectively.

Why BAPSA lost?

This is a serious question to be asked by BAPSA. The organisation came up as an outfit for Dalits but later on it tried to appropriate Adivasis, Muslims and other marginalised sections. Now let us look at some key factors that led to the damages:

  • Lack of leaders: BAPSA lacks charismatic leadership who can intrude into the spirit of JNU. The presidential candidate in 2016 had won hearts through his speech and got 1545 votes but it did not have follow up. The vision of leaders is not properly conveyed to the students community. The popularity of the candidate is also important in JNU while BAPSA’s central panel and councillor candidates lack it and some of them are first year students.
  • Views the Left and the Right as two sides of the same coin: The most problematic stand by BAPSA is that the Left and ABVP are the same because both assert brahamanical authority. BAPSA never tries to understand that ABVP is a closed room in which there is no scope for change while there is still hope with the left. The Left agrees to the basic rights to all humanity at least in principle and it is opposed to fascism. The Left was directly opposed to ABVP all these years in JNU and BAPSA’s argument that the Left helped ABVP has disappointed the students community. Only if BAPSA rectifies this mistake and makes an attempt to understand the Left in a better way, can it go further. BAPSA always claims to fight fascism but it has failed to engage directly with BAPSA’s inability to appreciate the contributions made by the Left and failure to work with the Left on issues that concern all the students in the campus and ABVP is put on the opposite side.
  • Failure to woo Muslims: BAPSA got organisational support from SIO (Students Islamic Organisation) and YFDA (Youth Forum for Discussions and Welfare Activities). This year MSF (Muslim Students Federation) also came up with it’s support to BAPSA but it still could not get all the Muslims votes.

SIO and MSF have supporters mainly from Kerala (roughly around 100 students). YFDA has not been successful enough among the north Indian Muslims in the campus. There was no direct attempt from BAPSA to woo Muslim voters though it had led struggles for Najeeb. Dalit-Muslim votes and support from other marginalised sections could have been a good formula for BAPSA to win the election.

In 2017, the presidential candidate was a Muslim but this year BAPSA could not find a Muslim candidate for any of the 4 posts which shows that Muslims are still hesitant to accept BAPSA. Instead of support from outside, it should try to be inclusive and make Muslims part of decision making body.

  • Failure to woo other marginalised sections: BAPSA had got public support throughout campaign from Jharkhand Tribal Students Association (JTSA) and other tribal outfits. This time no public support was garnered from any tribal association. The rhetoric of ‘oppressed unity’ becomes a bubble when it comes to reality.
  • Participation in JNU’s struggles: BAPSA failed to convince that it will be on the forefront of the struggles of all the students in the campus. In many issues also BAPSA did not recognise the authority of JNUSU and took extreme steps that did not make any impact but instead resulted in the disintegration of students’ struggle. BAPSA could not overshine to left counterparts in the struggles. BAPSA could not put forward any different strategy or propose a different agenda that could have given an alternative option to the students.

This is high time that BAPSA should do a serious introspection to have ideological, political and electoral win in the left dominated campus. Instead of underestimating the left win in the name of ‘constructed ABVP fear’ and debunking its win in the name of ‘deceitful and paradoxical unity before election’, BAPSA should come closer to reality to pave the way for future.


The author is a research scholar in School of Social Sciences. Any response to this article can be sent to theinformer.jnu@gmail.com and we will be happy to publish it.


Categories: Home, NEWS, Opinion

1 reply »

  1. You’ve missed a crucial point- their presidential candidate this year was named in the 2nd list of sexual harassers in academia. The organisation took no position on it, didn’t issue a clarification, nominated him instead. Many female students made it a point to not vote for him due to this hypocrisy, since bapsa was quite vocal about the first list.


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