Friday, 21 September 2012

Elections in University of Delhi

Barely a week and the campus of Delhi University seem silent as a grave. The over-hyped and over-rated student elections have ended with NSUI occupying most of the seats. And the vociferous elements have gone to their respective hibernation quarters. They would be called next year if any of the parties need them. The annual elections are a very good way to democratically elect a union body. But this is not an annual affair. All the parties keep alluring students round the year to increase their electorate. It is a very smooth and systematic process. Especially parties like NSUI & ABVP begin this process when the session starts. When you are a fresher these elections and campaigning sound extremely alluring and this happens with everybody. Even I was quite energized when I joined DU last year. So this is where these giant students body come in. they try their level best to catch the attention of students by cultural programmes, cleanliness campaigns, anti-tobacco campaigns and other works for social causes. Considering ourselves an active students and hot-blooded that we are, we become the mouse who falls bait to the cheese and lands up in the cage. The bait is not only in one form. Sometimes students get excited just because they are made to believe that they would get the opportunity to rub shoulders with few political honchos. So after getting for themselves enough na├»ve freshers the parties set out on the election journey. And this process keeps repeating every year.  DU elections are considered to be the most sought after students elections. It is a huge fad because it provides a prospect to enter directly into national politics. And that is the reason why national parties of our country leave no stone unturned in facilitating their respective youth wings to WIN even after knowing that they are violating the recommendations of Lyngdoh committee which clearly and precisely says in its Article [6.3] that ‘dissociation of student elections and student representation from political parties’. It is very thorny for them to understand this one sentence. Many of the times it appears as if it is an election between BJP & Congress rather than NSUI &ABVP. Politicians like deependra hooda, Oscar Fernandez, Sheila dikshit, and others throng the university campus on the day of voting.  They must be well-versed with the English and hindi language and also the recommendations of Lyngdoh committee. Or probably they have become brazen enough as to contravene everything that comes in their way of winning.
And they don’t stop here.  DU elections become a platform for showing off dazzling and swanky cars, heavily built men and hefty currency notes. Party which possess these three important elements in big amounts are the ones who win with a bang. Delicious free food, social gatherings free rides, beautiful faces, distribution of alcohol and freebies to students forms up the core of their original manifestos which is not made public. While this dim-witted temptation gathers few students, it doesn’t increase the turn-out for elections. This year the turnout for elections was slightly over 30%. That is it! Not even half of the university’s population comes out to vote. The enticing manifestos too don’t provide much help because firstly more or less all the parties demand for the same thing. There is nothing novel. And secondly none of them see to it that the promises they made ought to be fulfilled once they come to power. Besides one of the interesting thing is that the manifestos of these parties have been more or less same since a decade. How well-run and efficient the university is! The only promise they live up to is the parties that they throw and the fancy outstation trips they organize. The history of DU says that not a single independent candidate has been elected for any post. The woman as always becomes an object to woo voters. If they contest for any post they aren’t given votes on the basis of what issues they are raising or because it is mentioned in the constitution of Delhi university students union. It has become a history. Instead they are voted for their glamour and their heavily painted demonized visage. It was only once that a woman was elected as a president and that was in 1977.  They are mainly used by the big honchos to create scenes and grab consideration. They have no say in as far as the union is concerned.  Simon de Beauvoir was completely right when she said and I quote ‘women are not born, they are made’. Unquote.
Prem studios in kamla nagar become a very happening place during elections. It is here that most of the contestants get their attractive pictures clicked. For Rs. 800, this studio gives 3 lovely pictures. So arithmetically even if 4 candidates order 3 pictures each the cost comes up to Rs.3200 and this is when the Lyngdoh committee in its article 6.6.1 recommends the maximum permitted expenditure per candidate to be Rs. 5000. It is in actual fact hard to count how much these student bodies squander in elections.
Caste too comes to play a major role. The student politics too like the national politics is reduced to the narrow divisions of caste and class. Students commence their mind games and start selecting candidates as per the vote bases. Despite the recommendation of Lyngdoh committee in article [6.7.3] which states that ‘there shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes. Places of worship, within or without the campus shall not be used for election propaganda’, the parties continue to breach these proposals. Then a process starts where parties divide the areas for campaigning according to caste and religion. Grime is added to the reputation of DU. The aims of the constitution of Delhi university student’s union pledges ‘to promote consciousness among the students of the university of Delhi of the events taking place around them with a view to better equipping them as responsible and educated citizens and to build up a healthy students movement’. What an irony! When students are divided into fragments in the name of caste and religion at such an early age, how would they grow up to be civilized and responsible citizens of this country? The aims of the constitution also enlist that a sense of service to the people and a duty towards the state should be promoted among students. The students would surely grow up to learn that distributing alcohol and good food is a way of doing a service to the state and its people.

This year was no different in witnessing the painted walls and colorful photographs of the candidates. The Lyngdoh committee clearly mentions in the article [6.7.5] that ‘no candidate shall be permitted to make use of printed posters, printed pamphlets, or any other printed material for the purpose of canvassing. Candidates may only utilize hand-made posters for the purpose of canvassing, provided that such hand-made posters are procured within the expenditure limit set out herein above’. But who pays heed to this. The smaller parties are crushed in this competition of money and politics. Parties like SYS and the AISA are stomped by NSUI & ABVP in the similar fashion as BJP led NDA and Congress led UPA have done in the past with other regional parties. Who is to provide a security to these smaller groups? Why do the college authorities pay no heed to these groups? It was so appalling to see university authorities on their knees in front of these giant groups. The campus was flooded with zillions of printed posters of each candidate. The paintings were also not less. And there was nobody to keep a check on this infringement. Also it is cited in the committee’s recommendation in article [6.7.7] that ‘no candidate shall be permitted to carry out processions, or public meetings, or in any way canvass or distribute propaganda outside the university/college campuses. This was the one recommendation which was defied heavily. There were huge hoardings of the candidates and pamphlets were distributed all over the city. Whole Delhi was aware that elections are happening in Delhi University. And delhi-ites did not know this only from the news or radio channels. Students were campaigning extensively all over the city and meetings were held in every possible place except the university.
usual tussle between two of the largest groups.
Further article [6.7.8] of the committee mentions that ‘during the election period the candidates may hold processions and/or public meetings, provided that such processions and/or public meetings do not, in any manner, disturb the classes and other academic and co curricular activities of the college/university. Such procession/public meetings may not be held without the prior written permission of the college/university’. What happens in this regard is that the esteemed candidates according to their wish stomp into any random class, the teacher is asked to leave and the candidates make their impromptu inspirational and friendly speeches and mould the gullible students into their voters. With every coming year DUSU candidates arrive with some new brainless idea. So this year the dummy candidates were introduced. Once during campaigns I met this friend of mine who is from another college. And during our conversation I found out that the candidate of one of the giant party who had come to my class for a vote appeal was present in her class too and strangely at the same time. We both were totally astonished. After talking to others we found out about the new trend which commenced from this year.
As far as giving the inspirational speeches are concerned, all the candidates more or less talk in a similar tone. There have always been talks on the opening of 4 campuses for the university, probably since the time university opened in 1922. And even now after 90 years it still occupies a place in the manifestos. Also the two which have been opened, only the north one can be termed as a campus. South campus remains devoid of the basic amenities. The commuting problem is such a big issue that students usually prefer north campus colleges. Some colleges don’t even have canteens and few of the privileged ones who boast of a canteen complain of unhygienic and stale food. During admission students are always given a choice between NSS, NCC or sports and also in co-curricular activities. But nothing really happens of these. Students go for these only when they have to get their clearance done. There are few dance groups and drama groups which manage to make a mark. But these are so few that they can be counted on fingertips. Some students graduate out of university without knowing that such groups and such opportunities existed.  Hostel facilities are extremely poor. Numerically there are very few hostels which are unable to accommodate the large no of students.  Such is the condition that an ‘AAM’ student of DU can’t meet the president of DUSU. At the time of elections these groups become extra ordinarily friendly and once the election passes their rowdiness commences.
The members of union keep getting promoted to higher levels and ultimately leave college politics to join national stage and these numerous issues are reserved for next year’s manifestos. The glorious and most popular university of our country showcases such state. Is this the fate of the ‘most sought’ after student’s elections? Was this the purpose behind introduction of student’s elections in our country? How reprehensible it is to divulge that such valued institution has been so demeaning.
From such a young age students are taught of every possible filthy & sordid ways. It is fed in their minds that only through capital, might  and dissection on the name of caste can anybody win the elections. So much so that when these students grow up it becomes their habit. If the future of our country lies in the hands of such young people, then the future is definitely going to be treacherous.

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