Election frenzy grips DU and JNUhttps://indianexpress.com/article/explained/election-frenzy-grips-du-and-jnu/

Election frenzy grips DU and JNU

The competition between parties has invoked a senseless contest for visibility – a game where hardly any rules apply.

DU elections, DU polls 2015, DUSU polls, , DUSU elections campaign, BJP, AAP, CYSS, ABVP, JNU, Delhi university elections, Delhi university polls, Beyond the news, Delhi news
A ‘mashal’ rally held by the Democratic Students’ Federation ahead of the student body polls in JNU. (Oinam Anand)

Student union elections in DU are all about colourful posters, mass sloganeering and door to door campaigns, but there is an added buzz about Delhi University Student Union (DUSU)  elections this year.

Unlike previous years, the elections this year is a multi-cornered fight with two new groups – the AAP backed Chatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti (CYSS) and Students Union of India (SOI), the student wing of Shiromani Akali Dal entering the fray

At stake, are not just four positions of the Delhi University Student Union, but also perceived political images of three political parties – BJP, Congress & AAP.

While CYSS is banking on its parent’s party assembly poll show to disturb traditional equations and win seats, BJP backed Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, with a good organizational base, is on a lookout to consolidate its position. After serious drubbing in the polls last year, for NSUI, a victory would be a statement of reasserting lost position.

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No wonder then that parties are going all out to not just catch students’ attention, but also outdo each other.Colourful posters have taken over every inch of available space — from walls and vehicles to even statues. Hoardings, featuring leaders of political parties, call out to passerbys to vote for their party in the elections. Even Vivekananda’s statue has not been spared.

Quarrels between student factions often break out, so police vans patrol the campus to keep a lookout for troublemakers.

The situation got so out of control on the last day of campaigning that DU Presidential debate – the first such event – had to be cancelled for ‘security reasons’.

Parties admit that this election is different, and may change the way DUSU elections are fought forever. “For the first time we have a student body using unprecedented money power and government muscle to make its presence felt. Never before has there been the influx of so much money and the involvement of a political party in student elections. It is unfortunate because the party has raised the bar for election expenditure for years to come,” says ABVP Delhi state secretary Saket Bahuguna, hinting at the AAP’s alleged ‘overt’ involvement in the campaigning.

The competition between parties has invoked a senseless contest for visibility – a game where hardly any rules apply. “ Making our presence felt now is crucial to establish ourselves, not as a one-time phenomenon but as a party here to stay,” a CYSS party worker said.

So while CYSS tried to woo students with Selfie with stars and a rock concert, NSUI and ABVP organized football tournaments and freshers parties.The ABVP, unleashed an entire army of volunteers in colleges.

In a first, parties even came out with opinion polls declaring their victory. The focus seems to be simple – to win. “And for that maximum students should come out and vote”.

On September 14, parties will know for sure if DU students heeded their call.

Just like Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) also goes to poll on Friday. A total of 22 candidates from seven student organizations are in the fray. As always, the two most important issues around which the elections are being fought are the hostel crunch and the discrimination students in their viva-voce. Although the incumbent All India Students’ Association (AISA) has claimed partial success in getting work started for the construction of new hostels, the larger JNU community remains unsatisfied. This, along with AISA’s “disregard for the JNUSU constitution” as per its opponents in the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and Democratic Students’ Federation (DSF), has resulted in anti-incumbency which was visible in the Presidential debate held on Wednesday night.

Just on the basis of the debate, the All India Students’ Federation (AISF) should win on the President’s post but unlike DU, JNU always prioritizes the organization. Despite all criticism, AISA still seems to be strongest organization and will likely win at least two seats in the central panel.

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With DSF’s absence in the post of vice-president, there is a slim chance that SFI might pull through. Both DSF and SFI seem confident of winning on the post of general secretary. The fate of the joint secretary seat is dodgy with many giving it to AISA. Despite significant gains in the last elections, opponents claim Right-wing ABVP is unlikely to win seats in the central panel. Either way, at this point it seems like unlike last year, AISA may not make a clean sweep. But only time will tell which way the wind blows in JNU.