Khandelwal and Jackson also competed for the role last year, in an election won emphatically by KhandelwalLouis Ashworth/Sid Neelson

Candidate for University Councillor Josh Jackson has launched a fierce attack on the record of his opponent, incumbent Umang Khandelwal, accusing her of “a massive lack of transparency and accountability.”

Khandelwal has pushed back, however, saying that she “fundamentally disagree[s] with his version of the past year”.

In a statement given to Varsity, Jackson railed against Khandelwal for what he perceived as her failure to live up to her manifesto promise last year to keep “students-at-large informed about and engaged with the actions of council”. He alleges that “we have no idea what she voted for or against”, owing to her failure to provide “one shred of publicly available evidence” of her activity.

He accused her of failing to stand up for students on important issues, namely “divestment [from fossil fuel companies], EU students’ rights and the fate of Class Lists”, on which he claimed she had failed to have her “voice heard in the debate”.

Jackson particularly condemned what he described as Khandelwal’s lack of engagement with the divestment issue, claiming that, despite media coverage of the issue and University Council’s reluctance to endorse it, “there was no Umang speaking out, the very person who is supposed to be our representative.” He elaborated: “She has made no overtures to the media. She has not posted on Facebook nor has she contacted the Zero Carbon society over this. This is ineffective and intransparent leadership.”

In her own statement, however, Khandelwal repudiated these charges, claiming that she has in fact met with Zero Carbon and other societies, and stating that she continues “to pursue open communication with you, the student press, student groups and actively welcome constructive criticism.”

Jackson also identified various other ways in which he believes her to have fallen short of her manifesto promises, alleging that there is no evidence that she has maintained “regular correspondence with JCRs and MCRs” as promised.

In one particularly dramatic passage, Jackson declared: “We cannot afford to reelect someone who been this uncommunicative for the past year in one of the most executive student roles in the university. As University Councillor I want to reverse this shadowy and closed off practice; Umang will entrench it.”

Jackson concluded: “We cannot re-elect Umang to the Council. We need a Councillor who will be active, engaged and direct: that’s the kind of University Councillor I will be.”

Khandelwal’s statement defended her record, stating: “During my tenure as your representative, I have sought to faithfully represent you; to meaningfully engage with you, and to represent you and your views.”

She criticised Jackson’s campaigning method, writing: “It is profoundly disappointing that my opponent has decided to take this route rather than engage in a constructive discussion on how best to engage and represent you.”

She concluded: “While there is always room to do things better, I stand by my tenure as your University Councillor and believe that with your support during this election, we can continue to make the University of Cambridge a more responsive and representative institution. “

Jackson’s unusually aggressive statement is an attack on the central pillar of Khandelwal’s campaign, which has stressed her experience as her main qualification for the role. Up to now, his own focus has largely been on policy, notably divestment and the rights of EU students.

Jackson was one of Khandelwal’s opponents for the position last year, along with two others. In the final round of voting, she defeated him by 850 to 605 votes.

The other candidate for University Councillor is Marcel Llavero Pasquina, who has promised if elected to prioritise securing divestment and fighting racism. The initial fourth candidate, Peter Juhasz, withdrew from consideration on Friday.

The tension in the University Councillor race follows an unexpectedly fiery exchange between the three presidential candidates – Jack Drury, Daisy Eyre and Keir Murison – on Varsity’s The Sunday Review radio show this afternoon, in which the trio clashed over the competence of CUSU as an organisation and the feasibility of each other’s policies

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