Vote for mummy, says JNUSU candidate’s star campaigner

Gunjan PriyaGunjan Priya with her daughter Shristi.

In the final run-up to the JNU students' union polls, Gunjan Priya, chasing an MPhil in Central Asian Studies, is leaving no stone unturned to woo voters. But unlike others in the fray, she is not accompanied by friends and party workers making energetic appeals. Gunjan's star campaigner is a three-year-old girl who is going around making a simple appeal: "Vote for mummy."

Twenty-eight-year-old Gunjan, a single mother, is contesting for the post of councillor as a Students' Federation of India (SFI) candidate.

Gunjan, who got married at the age of 23, moved into the Ganga Hostel along with daughter Shristi in 2012 when she joined JNU for MPhil. Her life on campus, with a daughter, has not been easy.

"The SFI members are very supportive. They are like family. They take care of Shristi when I have to attend classes or go campaigning," Gunjan said.

Apart from other students' issues, Gunjan's campaign centres around the issues faced by married women on campus.

"The one section which suffers the most for lack of representation is that of married students. Single mothers face a number of problems as they have to care for themselves and the child. Many research scholars face problems such as extension of scholarship during maternity or lack of maternity leave. Married women are not given any special consideration during the maternity period. Only 800 hostel seats have been reserved for married students. Most of these seats are illegally occupied by members of the teaching staff, resulting in married students having to stay in other hostels with their children," Gunjan said.

"This section of students, nearly 1,400 in number, has always wanted representation in college policy-making bodies. Hardly any policies are formulated for their welfare," she said.

Gunjan said associations such as Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) have been working towards creating a secure environment for women and gender sensitisation.

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