“We have limited resources and the way Delhi University Students’ Union polls are fought, we can neither give freebies nor do we want to. Also, our organization is not as strong in DU, so we are first trying to strengthen our presence,” a source in the Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti (CYSS) told Hindustan Times. DUSU elections have always been a contest between the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) and the All India Students’ Association (AISA). But in 2015, Aam Aadmi Party’s student wing, CYSS, emerged as a fresh alternative. Due to the Lyngdoh Committee Guidelines, and finances required to win the elections, 2015 was the only year that CYSS contested in elections. Now, the party is almost nowhere to be seen.
Student elections in India have become synonymous with a blatant display of money and muscle power. Contesting parties are known for distributing freebies, organising fresher parties, and cultural events, with performances by well-known artists. To curb the excessive expenditure and chaos during university elections, the Supreme Court set up a committee in the year 2005 that had several rules and regulations on how to conduct elections. Called the Lyngdoh Committee, it put forth a set of guidelines which ranged from the age limit to the budget that each party should spend on elections. Some of these guidelines are –
Violation of any of the rules mentioned in the document could lead to cancellation of candidature. There are also a few guidelines that have compelled student political parties to boycott elections entirely. Two primary reasons for that include the fact that the approved budget for canvassing is too less, and that the candidates cannot re-contest elections in the subsequent years, irrespective of their performance.
Bhagat Singh Ambedkar Students’ Organisation, a student organisation, has branded the guidelines as ‘draconian’. According to them, the committee guidelines are nothing more than a political weapon to suppress dissent and student politics in institutes of higher education. The only time when some action was taken for flouting the guidelines was when the Supreme Court banned Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) from having student elections for three years from 2008. When the elections happened in 2012, some of the rules were relaxed and the interference of the administration in the elections became lesser.
According to the National Green Tribunal, students are to publicise only through two handmade posters around the university. This is not feasible for the students. And the Lyngdoh guidelines were meant to control the expenditures incurred by the contesting parties, but they haven’t been effective at all. If you enter Delhi University’s south campus right now, you’ll see hundreds of posters saying “Vote for XYZ” on every wall and SUVs with symbols of the political parties contesting in the upcoming elections. Not keeping a check with compliance of the guidelines makes it next to impossible for independent candidates to win.
Therefore, the functioning of elections need to be looked into, and some rules need to be modified.
Until that is done, if you see any discrepancy in your college’s elections, according to the guidelines, contact the Grievances Redressal Cell of your university within three weeks from the date of declaration of results. The cell is supposed to act on all complaints within 24 hours. If that doesn’t work out, you can always share it with us by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.