AISA Hopes To Make A Big Comeback In DU, But Is Its Manifesto Strong Enough?

In its manifesto for the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) 2017 elections, the All India Students’ Association (AISA) claims to have “mobilised the student community across campuses on issues such as opposing fee hikes, against the package of commercialisation of education and the anti-student recommendations of Knowledge Commission, against the BJP’s communal-fascist politics and Congress’s anti-people economic policies.”

AISA is a prominent left wing party in Jawaharlal Nehru University but has consistently failed to win elections in Delhi University. During last year’s DUSU elections, it did gain some momentum by being the only party to field three women candidates – something that wasn’t heard of ever before. Not just that, it made some waves with powerful speeches that showed progressive stances. But in Delhi University, muscle power, and money seem to work more – something that AISA doesn’t indulge in, something that makes the party fail.

This time around too, it isn’t using the tactics the Akhil Bhartiya Vidya Parishad (ABVP) and the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), two of the most successful parties on campus, use. It’s going the ‘AISA way’ with campaigning – emphasising on not using posters, one-on-one campaigning, and focusing on issues on the campus.

ABVP and AISA clashed many times in the past one year, and as always, NSUI was almost nowhere to be seen. It started off with ABVP allegedly disrupting AISA’s “Idea Of University” event by physically attacking people. Recently members of the ABVP called Kawalpreet Kaur, a popular student activist from AISA ‘an anti-national slut’. In the past one year, Delhi University has been known the most for the violent clashes on campus in the February 2017,  incident. Members of ABVP were accused as the main perpetrators of violence there as well. This is why the first half of AISA’s manifesto is dedicated to why students shouldn’t vote for “ABVP and its hooliganism”.

Some of the promises AISA has made in its manifesto include –

  • Increased student participation in decision making – in the executive and academic council, and general student welfare.
  • Pushing for the provision of concessional students’ passes in metro and buses, to ensure that transportation is easily accessible and convenient for all.
  • Better connectivity of colleges with buses and more bus counters near colleges.
  • Development of infrastructure and colleges along with clean classrooms, washrooms, computer rooms and easy photocopies will be demanded.
  • An active grievance committee will be formed, to redress the marginalised communities where complaints can be addressed. The committee will also provide information on scholarships, academic material, course outlines, remedial classes, etc.
  • A sexual harassment committee will also be put in place along with and anti-discriminatory committee-with special attention to the North-Eastern students.
  • A feedback mechanism for various committees and libraries will also be put in place.
  • Like last year, the party is pushing for the right to accommodation under ‘Room Of My Own’, and proper room rent control for hostels and PGs.

The party recently campaigned for a ‘Clean-DU’, where they stood up against widespread pamphlet flooding on the streets of DU. It is also actively campaigning on social media to connect with the students. Facebook Live videos are broadcasted during their campaigns, constant updates of pictures and statuses are put up on Facebook. Quick replies are given to problems which are addressed to them, both via text and online platforms. It’s strategic campaigning with a prompt declaration of candidates and objectives, without compromising on ethics (not that we know of yet), that is making it stand apart. How effective they have been is something that only time will tell.

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