Divided by innumerable issues, if there is anything at all that unites all the parties or alliances contesting Delhi University Students Union elections this year, then it is having only one woman contest the elections. While INSO (Indian National Students Organisation) has the only female candidate contesting for the post of President, AISA-CYSS alliance, NSUI, and SFI have female Vice-Presidential candidates, and ABVP has one female candidate contesting for the post of Joint Secretary.
Kawalpreet Kaur, a student activist associated with AISA argues that this is not a tokenistic approach on the part of AISA since they have only two candidates contesting the elections, which leaves CYSS as the only party without any female candidate at all.
While NSUI is trying to bank on their performance last year, which its presidential candidate Sunny Chillar argues has been exceptional since they have fulfilled all the promises they made, AISA-CYSS is trying to tap into the more than 29,000 NOTA votes DUSU elections saw last year, coupled with the fact that CYSS is a relatively new addition on the scene, and hence does not have any “history” to dissuade the voters from them.
In this scenario, AISA-CYSS are maintaining their position as the “agents of change.” In almost every campaign speech and interview, AISA-CYSS candidates have taken up the point that NSUI and ABVP fight the elections on the basis of money and muscle power, while their alliance has come up on the scene to bring DUSU elections in line with issue-based politics.
On the other hand, NSUI’s vice-presidential candidate Leena is one of the very few candidates from the marginalised communities. She maintains time and again in her public appearances that fighting for the rights of Dalits is one of the most important issues for her, apart from ensuring the safety of women in both on-campus, as well as off-campus colleges. Even though all the parties unanimously agree that the safety of women on campus is one of the primary issues, none of them have been able to come up with concrete plans to address the issue.
When it comes to elections itself, AISA-CYSS is the only party or alliance that has been vocal about having a reform in the way elections are fought. However, again, their stand has also been weak and vague on this issue. They have not talked much about reforms per se, as much as they have talked about ABVP and NSUI spending a lot of money on the election campaign.
Individually, AISA has been trying to bring up its activism credentials. The protests for Delhi Metro Student Passes and DTC AC Bus Student Passes that AISA organised last year have formed the core of their campaign speeches for this election.
Specifically, these are the main issues AISA-CYSS alliance have taken up in their manifesto:
In their present manifesto, NSUI is focusing more on its achievements of last year after they won two main DUSU seats, that of the President and Vice-President. The main achievements listed being:
1) Ensuring that there was no violence on campus.
2) Asking the DU authorities to make public the spending of funds by DUSU over the past several years, in which ABVP used to have most of the seats.
3) ‘Democracy Dialogue’ – a series of lectures and helping in the publication of the first DUSU magazine D-Youth.
NSUI has come up with a punchline and hashtag “#DUSpeakUp” focusing on the fight for the tag of Institution of Eminence status for Delhi University and having an affordable and women-friendly campus.