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Know What Parties In DU Stood For This Past Year As You Decide Your Vote

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The Delhi University Students Union elections are right around the corner and like every year, the student community has an important responsibility in deciding who will lead them. With issues like Room Rent Control Act and lack of hostel facilities being unresolved over the years, it is imperative that the students vote responsibly.

Whether you are a first year, second year or a final year student at DU, Campus Watch has got you covered in helping you make the right choice. Here’s what the contesting parties in DU have been up to in the past year:

Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP)

Since the past two years, ABVP has managed to maintain its claim over the throne of DUSU. This time the party’s list of candidates include Amit Tanwar for the presidential post, Priyanka Chhawri, for the post of Vice –president, Ankit Singh Sangwan for the post of the Secretary and Vishal Yadav for the post of the Joint Secretary. In a recent interview with Newslaundry, the current President of DUSU, Satender Awana denied of any strategy being adopted by ABVP to intentionally have those candidates whose name begin with the letter ‘A’. Interestingly, the names of two of their candidates this time follows this pattern, which ensures that their names will appear on the top of the ballot.

Source: ABVP/Facebook
Source: ABVP/Facebook

In the past three years, ABVP has been an active participant of various student protests, including the one that eventually made DU roll back its FYUP policy. They actively pushed for the Juvenile Justice act being passed in the Parliament, and also contributed effectively towards the implementation of the Room Rent Control Act. ABVP even submitted a memorandum to the HRD Ministry with respect to their decision of reducing the number of seats in the Faculty of Law.

Speaking to Campus Watch regarding the implementations brought about by the party, Saket Bahuguna, the National Media Convener of ABVP said, “Our four office bearers have been very active on campus, visiting the students in various colleges to solve their issues. For example, when a lot of students were being denied their admit cards by their respective colleges, ABVP lead DUSU to ensure that all these students were permitted to write their exam.”

Despite the claims by the party, the student community feels that it has not been successful in fulfilling their aspirations. They critiqued that the method adopted by ABVP in their protests has often lead to a state of hooliganism. For example, when members threw out furniture from the Dean’s office as part of a protest. One of the party members was reportedly also involved in beating up a student of Deshbandhu College, when he did not agree to say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai‘. Other parties like NSUI and AISA, have raised objections to the arbitrary use of the term ‘anti-national’; which the party has used to describe for protests in which it was not involved. While such accusations have been denied by their Media Coordinator, it remains to be seen whether this will help the party retain their throne or not.

National Students Union of India (NSUI)

NSUI which is the student wing of the Indian National Congress, has not been able to win the elections since the past two years. Despite the successive defeats, it will be giving another attempt at regaining its ground in student politics. NSUI has previously participated in protests against the FYUP policy; along with AISA, it led the protest against a decision by the Bar Council of India (BCI) which drastically affected several law aspirants. It has also showed dissent over the university’s decision of introducing the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS), which according to the party created confusion for both the faculty and the students.

Recently, along with Oscar Fernandez the party conducted an interactive session ensuring to look after the needs of the students from North East. NSUI also actively participated, along with other political parties in the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) strike earlier this year. Speaking to Campus Watch, Nirbhesh – a member of NSUI, said, “Our party stood for the rights of DUTA as we felt that if a teacher who is nurturing the future of the nation is not being treated rightly then how can we expect our nation to be led by bright students.” 

NSUI’s list of candidates for this year includes Nikhil Yadav for the post of the President, Arjun Chaprana for the post of Vice- President, Vinita Dhaka for the post of Secretary and Mohit Garid for the post of Joint Secretary. Interestingly, three out of four of their candidates are first year students. The party believes that despite being new to the college life, these candidates are not strangers to the arena of student politics and the problems being faced by the student body. By keeping fresh candidates on the forefront, NSUI does seem to have a unique strategy – however, whether this will work in their favour or against them is something which cannot be ascertained as of now.

Source: NSUI/Facebook
Source: NSUI/Facebook

All India Students’ Association (AISA)

Apart from ABVP and NSUI, DUSU elections will also witness participation from AISA, which is the student wing of the Communist Party of India. Its list of candidates includes Kawalpreet Kaur for President, Amrita Queen for Vice President, Amish Anjul Verma for Secretary and Ankita Nirmal for Joint Secretary. With this list, AISA is the only party to have three women as its candidates, which puts it at a unique position for the upcoming elections.

Posted by Kazim Irfani/Facebook
Posted by Kazim Irfani/Facebook

In the past year, AISA has been tediously working for the welfare of the students especially with the student community’s Right to Accommodation. The party has done this by pushing for House Rent Allowance for students, hostel seats for students, and also by working upon the implementation of the Room Rent Control Act. It has even started a campaign by the name of ‘A Room of My Own’ in order to convey to the Government the need for more hostel facilities across the University. In addition, AISA also vigorously supported the cause of DUTA, and participated in their protest held earlier this year.

All the three contesting parties have been active in working towards the welfare of the students, irrespective of the fact whether they were in power or not. Meanwhile, there is CYSS (Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti) the student wing of Aam Aadmi Party, which has decided not to contest in the elections this year.

So will ABVP score a hattrick this time? Or will NSUI get third time lucky? It remains to be seen which party will gain the maximum votes, however, it is important that the student community votes in large numbers so that they can choose the best of candidates for the upcoming year.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)’.

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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.

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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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