‘Main DUSU lad raha hu. Jeet gaya to main lakhon me kamaunga. Tu kya 300 ki bat karta hain?’ A straightforward and caustic reply, one might say. However, the same also reveals in a very clear picture, the idea that underlies the modern day student elections and student politics. As first hand evidence, today, I came out of my shower. A NSUI pamphlet, lying on my bed, suggesting the wave of campaigns has started, lay next to my ransacked wallet, stripped off about 300 bucks. After the initial moments of surprise, I enquired if actually anyone from NSUI had come to campaign.
Apparently, they did. That only added to my suspicion that my bare wallet had to do something with the guys who had come for campaigning. And yet, somehow, I did not want to believe that these people, who aspire to lead the whole of Delhi University in about a month, can stoop so low as to steal from a random stranger. And so, I called up Varun Khari, the guy who had come for campaigning and left his number on every pamphlet, as if as an indifferent and sarcastic way to say ‘This is tokenism. I steal from you and provide you the illusion that you are the one benefiting.’ However, I had to dispel my apprehensions and so I decided to call him up. On asking if he had stolen the money, he simply asked for my name and address and on my refusal to do that, the reply, instead of a characteristically angry rhetoric, was a cold and calculated one, ‘Tu is baat ka issue mat bana. Tujhe 300 ke jagah 3000 de dunga. Main DUSU lad raha hu. Jeet gaya to main lakhon me kamaunga.’
And this somewhere made me weak on so many fronts. On a superficial level, it reflects the nature of our student politics. A system, which has no place for ethics (though personally, not a believer in ethics and morality, stealing is not something many would count as ‘good behaviour’). This also reflected how helpless the common student is, who has no say and voice in a system, which runs on the fuel understood as the unrelenting pumping of money into it and its agents, and that the virtue of connections is perennially more successful than merit in landing someone a favour.
This incident made me angry. And helpless. When a ‘leader’, who aspires to win DUSU, openly flaunts the fact that he would earn in lakhs if he wins, and rubbishes the seriousness of the crime, it only leads to the weaning away of one’s faith from the whole system. This is probably the case with many students, like me, who are unable to speak up because of the fear that they will be victimised. It’s not always about the magnitude of the money. It might not be a 2G or a Coalgate which affects all the people on the superficial level. But it does leave a big question to be answered. These small incidents, often unnoticed and seemingly unrelated, are the ethics and norms our politics is run on. It’s high time we start to ponder over these small issues, and fight back. At the grassroots, at the institutional and the state level. Only then, once we fight back, we will have a justification for cribbing about the current state of affairs in our country.