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Will CYSS And AISA Challenge The Dominance Of NSUI And ABVP in DU? #DelhiStudentsVote

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By Sakshi Jain

DelhiStudentsVote

A few months after the new academic session begins, Delhi University witnesses the upsurge of a political fever in the form of DUSU (Delhi University Students’ Union) elections every year. DUSU elections, known to be a top-notch student union election in the country reflects the consolidating lines between the two major systems of society, education and politics.

For almost a decade, DUSU election has been a bipolar election between two major political outfits, ABVP (Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad), student right wing and NSUI (National Students Union of India), student wing of Congress. A pronounced transition from bipolar to tripolar election has been the new trend in DUSU election since last year. The year 2014 saw the rise of a third outfit AISA (All India Students Association) which is not backed by any major national political party. This year, CYSS (Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti) backed by AAP seems to be a potential game changing rival for the decade-old twin superpowers of DUSU elections.

Has The Decade Old Confidence Of The Twin Superpowers Been Shaken?

DUSU has been bouncing like a ball in the political courts of NSUI and ABVP, for the colossal money and muscle power of the two and a lack of tough and challenging third party rivals. The debut of a potent rival CYSS backed by Delhi’s ruling government AAP this year has infused a sense of insecurity and trepidation among the two superpowers.

Switching loyalties of ex-DUSU President and ABVP member Jitendra Chaudhary, known for his strong base and support from students of trans-Yamuna area was the initial jolt to the ruling political outfit ABVP which was further augmented when CYSS managed to recruit Dharmendra Dhamu, one of the most active ABVP members in the North Campus. “CYSS has put the strongest political outfits in dilemma,” said Shrishti Mishra, in-charge of ABVP at Maitreyi College.

Concerts, rain dance and free movie tickets have invariably been the means of mobilizing support of students for respective political outfits. However, a new trend has been set in the history of polls this year by the rival third party CYSS. CYSS’s strategic move of mobilizing DU’S freshers by organising a rock concert starring AAP leader of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal who appealed to students to vote for CYSS has marked the inception of a new trend in the history of polls. “The freshers have been swayed by the rock concert of CYSS to a great extent,” said Sanjana Saxena from CIC, DU. Never has a political leader of the party got down to mobilizing students’ vote for University elections. The election campaigns by CYSS are also witnessing rare sights of posters of political leader, Arvind Kejriwal.

To foster the trend of students’ based union untainted by political ideas; CYSS has assured that the candidates will be based on students’ choice. CYSS has invited suggestions from the electorate to make its manifesto, following the footsteps of AAP. Consciously or unconsciously, CYSS has ensured gender balance in its nominees, a rare sight to see in DUSU elections.

The dark horse in the midst of all is the left-wing AISA, which has shown significant growth in terms of supporters. Being disregarded in the battleground of politics in DU since its inception, it is now thriving as a potential dynamic-changer of DUSU elections. Interestingly, DU is seeing the rise of AISA whose vote share has grown from 3,000 to over 10,000 in the year 2014.

The emergence of AISA as an important player in the battleground of DUSU elections has unnerved the two superpowers of DUSU and DU administration. It has given hope to some for its capacity to fanatically engage in the sharp contestations of political discourse at the university level. The referendum carried by AISA against FYUP that got approved by a thumping majority of students last year has increased the support base of the outfit.

This year’s election campaign is witnessing increased activity from AISA. They are trying to reach out to the students through various campaigns and a referendum on the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS). Their protest against the CBCS is on its peak and their survey on the system has received a great response.

With the increasing pervasiveness of political outfits not known to be superpowers, the competition has increased. The intense competition has led to change in patterns of campaigning this year. To overcome the expenses of advertisement and promotion, CYSS has resorted to ‘person-to-person’ campaign, the same measure that brought AAP to power this year in the Delhi Assembly Elections. ABVP, in its effort to compete with new ideas of campaigning has called for paper free campaign this year for the first time. The knee deep sea of paper pamphlets at the metro stations is an uncommon sight in this election. Aping the similar measure of person-to-person campaign, senior Congress leaders will go to the houses of DU students and speak to them about the NSUI candidates.

Will DUSU 2015 Election Results Set A New Trend?

It is striking how CYSS has come up to challenge the two established superpowers of DUSU without much ado. Till last year, the elections were driven by ideology based choices but this year the alternative choices are equally potent and far removed from deep rooted ideologies. In the regime of ABVP, the rise of instances of banning the screening of documentaries and conducting street plays in the name of hurting Hindu sentiments has provoked furore and resentment. This might turn out to be favourable to outfits such as CYSS and AISA. The focus of the DUSU election campaign has shifted towards providing alternative student politics committed towards ending the era of money and muscle power in campus elections. With the debut of CYSS, the shift has been towards the use of ‘government muscle’ in campaigning for elections.

The results of previous years’ DUSU elections signalled the impact of national level politics on the University elections. The so called ‘Modi Wave’ had its impact on channelling the victory of ABVP in the DUSU elections, 2014. However, the humiliating defeat of the right-wing group in the Delhi Assembly Elections in 2015 has changed the dynamics of the battleground of politics. The grand debut of CYSS in DUSU elections has shaken the confidence of the two superpowers of DUSU where the right wing student group fear the emulation of this years’ Delhi Assembly Elections and NSUI finds it more difficult to make up for lost ground. The increasing presence of AISA and the increase in its support base are also becoming significant deciding factors of victory.

The 2015 DUSU election is likely to be one of the most acutely fought ones in Delhi University and could throw up surprises.

This is a part of YKA’s focused coverage of the 2015 student union elections in Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University. To know more about it, click here.

Tweet your comments, feedback and opinions on the election with #DelhiStudentsVote. We’ll make sure your voice doesn’t go unheard.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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