Student Union Elections are as important as any other election process. The Delhi University’s Student Union (DUSU) elections which happen yearly in September and act as a gateway for students who wish to enter mainstream politics.
Before casting one’s vote, it is important for one to be aware of the work done by all the contesting parties. Good or bad, such awareness helps the students in making an informed decision.
The student wing of the Bhartiya Janata Party, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) had been in the news, for the last one year for some controversy or the other. In March 2017, ABVP was responsible for the ruckus that occurred at Ramjas College, after some of its party members disrupted a literary event which had invited JNU student Umar Khalid as one of its speakers.
The ABVP has been in power in Delhi University (DU) for the past three years. However, despite that, it has failed to tackle one of the most pressing issues for the students – the lack of hostels on campus and high hostel fees. Student-run organisations such as ‘Pinjra Tod’ have at least taken up the problems and staged various protests. Even though colleges such as Hindu college built a hostel for women, the unnecessarily high fees remained a problem. Apart from being ‘enraged’, the ABVP has failed in putting across the concerns of the students in front of the hostel committee.
The ABVP has also been accused of mishandling of funds by the National Students Union of India (NSUI). This puts a question mark on the authenticity and sincerity of the party and its overall conduct.
The party also has certain good work to its credit apart from the controversies. They had taken the initiative of ensuring maximum participation of students in the voting process by suggesting that the University runs an awareness drive. They proposed to provide students with the incentive of attendance benefit to have a larger participation in the voting process. To aid the confused students during the admission process, ABVP set up help-desks at all DU colleges.
Every year during the elections the University becomes a chaotic and messy ground, with pamphlets and posters lying on the ground, leading to wastage of paper and also breaking of election rules. To overcome this problem, the party suggested the University construct a separate wall altogether which could be used only to stick up the posters related to one’s campaign. This would ensure that the college campuses remain clean even during elections and no rules are broken.
The NSUI is the student wing affiliated with the Congress. It has given a tough fight to the ABVP in the past elections. Despite not being in power, the party has tried to support the students and work toward their cause. During the Ramjas clash, NSUI staged a peace march and extended its support to the students of Ramjas College against the misbehaviour shown by the ABVP members. To tackle the issue of transparency during elections, it has asked the DUSU authorities to conduct mock drills on EVMs. They even asked the authorities to appoint party polling agents so that the voting happens in a fair manner.
However, the party has failed in abiding by the rules for the elections by sticking posters on public property. Students have accused it of defacing the public property by putting up posters at places including campus walls, and metro stations.
The student wing of the Communist Party of India (ML), All India Students Association (AISA) has been one of the leading parties in demanding action to be taken against the misbehaviour by certain members of the ABVP at the Ramjas ruckus earlier this year in March 2017. It extended its support by leading the student protest along with students from Jawaharlal Nehru University, as well as pressuring the police to conduct a fair inquiry in the case.
While ABVP failed to overcome the hostel accommodation and fees problem at DU, AISA conducted a two-week signature campaign to support the student issues related to hostels at various DU colleges. It also led the campaign demanding for a metro pass for students who used the Delhi Metro to reach their respective colleges.
The AISA has been pressuring the authorities to look into the issue of paper wastage during elections, wherein certain parties, due to lack of proper check, end up making the college campus no less than a dustbin. It has organised and led a protest against the DU authorities, demanding them to look into the proper implementation of the rules and regulations related to the paper wastage laws.
So far, it is one of the only student wings which has not been accused of defacing the public property by sticking up several posters on public walls and walls of a college campus. Given the recent events of campus violence, AISA plans to conduct silence marches across several colleges in Delhi University to extend support in its fight for a campus which is violence free.
The students of Delhi University have witnessed incidents of campus violence, issues related to accommodation, safety and security, concerns regarding one’s freedom of expression. It is vital to know the parties before one casts their votes. The elections are important as they will decide who will be ultimately helping students of DU overcome all their concerns and issues in the coming year.