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Big varsities like DU need indirect polls for student union: Lyngdoh

The Delhi University committed contempt of court by holding direct elections to its student’s union for the past two years,says former chief election commissioner J M Lyngdoh who had chaired the committee that framed guidelines for students’ union elections across universities in the country.

Written by Deepu Sebastian Edmond | New Delhi |
September 15, 2009 12:21:50 am

The Delhi University committed contempt of court by holding direct elections to its student’s union for the past two years,says former chief election commissioner J M Lyngdoh who had chaired the committee that framed guidelines for students’ union elections across universities in the country.

Eight candidates,including three each from Congress-backed NSUI and BJP-backed ABVP,were disqualified in the recent elections to the Delhi University Students’ Union when the Lyngdoh panel’s recommendations were implemented. But the man responsible for the sweeping changes is not impressed. “They have missed the larger point,which is the court directive to hold proportional elections to the union,” he said.

“We had recommended indirect elections to large campuses like Delhi University so that influence of money and political parties could be kept out. Direct elections are possible only for small,restricted campuses like JNU.”

Asked about disqualification of candidates,Lyngdoh said,“Why do you think political parties have not approached the courts? Do you think they are ignorant? They want to keep it in the mud — they do not want change.”

Submitted in May 2006,the Lyngdoh Committee report had said that the direct election model followed in Delhi University is “plagued with an overflow of unnecessary funds”. It had recommended three models of indirect elections for universities with “large,widespread campuses and large student bodies”.

This,the committee said,is different from the direct election model suggested for “smaller universities with well-defined single campuses and a relatively smaller students’ population”.

Lyngdoh defended the recommendations and said they did not belittle the role of students’ unions. “The committee understood the importance of student unions while framing the report,and it is visible in the document,” he said. “Student unions cannot be mere cultural bodies — when students are sexually harassed in colleges,when colleges charge exorbitant capitation fees,students’ unions are where they go.”

About the ban on elections to the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU),a direct consequence of the Lyngdoh committee’s report,the former CEC said,“I really have no idea why they have opposed it but I understand some party has come forward in support of the recommendations.”

Lyngdoh was referring to withdrawal of NSUI from the Joint Struggle Committee that is fighting the ban in court.

The Lyngdoh report had praised the JNU system of elections but had warned that such a system carries a “major drawback,as this form of election is suitable only for small universities of the single campus type”.

Commenting on the fact that the major issues in JNU were age limit and the restriction on even one-time candidates from contesting again,he said,“Maybe that can be subjected to fine-tuning.”

Given a chance to do the exercise all over again,he said,“There would be really no difference. It is the implementation that counts.”

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