Student elections are supposed to give the studenets an idea about the process of electing a representative and an insight into democracy. Delhi University has been a breeding ground for politics and with the commencement of new academic session, election fever has once again gripped the campus. The Delhi University Student Union (“the DUSU”) Election is scheduled to be held on September 9, 2011 and the two major student political groups – the National Student Union of India (“the NSUI”) and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (“the ABVP”) – have already started drumming up support for their respective candidates. But this time, the democratic extravaganza is turning out to be a lacklustre affair because of the strict implementation of the recommendations of the J.M. Lyngdoh Committee, which has not only placed a cap on the amount of expenditure on canvassing but also states the consequences of defying the guidelines.
Last year, many of the candidates were barred from contesting the elections because they flouted the guidelines (which have also been incorporated into the Code of Conduct released by the University of Delhi for candidates contesting DUSU elections as well as Student Union elections), and so the parties are playing it safe this time. According to the recommendations of the Lyngdoh Committee, a candidate is not allowed to use printed material such as posters or pamphlets for canvassing. Only handmade posters are to be used at designated places in the campus, provided that they are procured within the expenditure limit of Rs.5,000/-. Besides, use of vehicles, loudspeakers, and even animals, which were one of the most popular means to win support, is also prohibited.
Animals are more useful in election campaigning than you would imagine.
Image above is from Hari Prasad Nadig’s photostream on Flickr.
The DUSU elections in 2010 were dominated by the ABVP, the student political arm of BJP, where the party bagged three of the four important posts in the varsity by a comfortable margin, ending the NSUI’s (the student political arm of the Congress) unchallenged reign of eight years. Both parties are yet to finalise the names of the candidates contesting the elections this year. The 2010 elections were fought mainly on the agenda of delay and gross irregularities in preparations for the Commonwealth games, price rise, implementation of semester system at the undergraduate level, and academic reforms.
According to Govind Kumar, President of the Student Union of Satyawati College, the NSUI’s tentative names for this year’s elections are Bhupendra Chaudhary, Ajay Chikkara (Faculty of Law), Manvi Chaudhary, Ravinder Chaudhary, Parag Sharma (M.A., Department of Buddhist Studies), and Garima Tiwari (Miranda House). When asked about the agenda, he further added that the NSUI has been working continuously on important issues concerning students, such as a twenty-four-hour library facility, bus facility for the students, and more girls’ hostels and will continue to pursue the same. On the other hand ABVP is contemplating the nomination of nine candidates: Manish Chandela (Ram Lal Anand College), Gaurav Chaudhary, Vikas Yadav (Ram Lal Anand college), Pooja Guliya, Deepak Bansal, Neha Singh (M.A., Department of Buddhist Studies), Utkarsh Chaudhary, and Vikas Chaudhary (Moti Lal Nehru College). “ABVP will focus on eradication of corruption in the education system and is determined to take required steps to stop the commercialisation of education. Besides, we will also raise the demand for new colleges”, said Manish Chandela, a student of Ram Lal Anand College (South Campus). He was of the opinion that the expenditure limit set up by the University as per the recommendations of the Lyngdoh Committee will help in selecting deserving and responsible candidates through a fair process. However, it is a disadvantage for individual candidates, who do not have any political backing and used to depend entirely on direct canvassing methods.
Apart from the DUSU Elections, the Faculty of Law, Delhi University will also witness Student Union elections, with students contesting for the posts of President, Vice President, Secretary, Joint-Secretary, and two posts of Central Councilor. A major change brought in this year is Braille-enabled Electronic Voting Machines for visually challenged students, which is a result of the efforts of the University’s Equal Opportunity Cell and will help them cast votes without any external help.
(Lipi Thapiyal is a student of Delhi University’s Faculty of Law.)