By Sakshi Jain:
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.
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