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Most DU students indifferent to politics
Ehtasham Khan in New Delhi |
September 05, 2003 08:46 IST
A cavalcade of seven cars, covered with colourful posters carrying smiling faces of would-be politicians, stops at Kirori Mal College in Delhi University's North Campus.
Around 50 students, mostly male, come out shouting slogans and clapping in unison campaigning for their candidates for the Delhi University Students Union polls scheduled for September 5.
They march towards the college building along with their leaders, who are wearing marigold garlands. Gradually, the slogans become louder and echo in the entire college as they move closer to the building.
The supporters ask for votes from fellow students and fling pamphlets in the air.
Within 10 minutes, the floor is almost entirely littered with pamphlets and handouts.
As the crowd moves ahead, second year student Shruti Verma throws the pamphlet handed to her by one of the supporters. She turns and grumbles: "Idiots. Bunch of jokers."
If Delhi University, one of India's largest universities with one of world's largest student unions, is any yardstick, most students prefer to stay away from politics.
For most, politics is not a good career option neither can it solve the problems of the country.
Says Verma: "It's a waste of time. Look how dirty the college is looking with papers spread all around. It's a waste of money. Classes have been disturbed for more than two weeks."
Verma is not alone; there are many like her who do not show any interest in politics.
Says another second year student, Manish Thakur, of the same college: "It is only the friends of the candidates who are deeply involved. Rest are only fence sitters. Polling day is a holiday for many.
"There is so much of shouting and hullabaloo that serious students prefer to stay away. Many of the supporters are outsiders and they are just there to shout slogans. Most of them look like goons. So it's better to stay away from them."
The Congress-affiliated National Students Union of India and the Bharatiya Janata Party's Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad are the main contenders in the elections.
There are smaller parties like Indian National Students Organisation, supported mainly by students from Haryana, Chatra Lok Janshakti, supported by former minister Ram Vilas Paswan, and Students Federation of India, which is supported by Communist Party of India-Marxist.
Leaders say NSUI and ABVP spend about Rs 3 million each in campaigning. Most of the money is spent on glossy posters that are visible on walls, bus stops, buses and every possible place where they can be seen.
Supporters are offered "allowance and drinks".
The candidates aim to join mainstream politics and their role models are Union ministers Vijay Goel and Arun Jaitley -- who were once presidents of DUSU.
Former DUSU office bearer and Delhi Transport and Tourism Minister Ajay Maken says: "Delhi University elections are a reflection of national politics. Student leaders are the one who will lead the country tomorrow."
But today's students appear disillusioned with the leadership.
"These people (candidates) want to make their own career. They have nothing to do with the welfare of the students. I am not interested in all this. Let the polls be over soon. We are waiting for the college festival that will begin after this," said Garima Chauhan of Hindu College.
The argument is substantiated by the statistics of last year's DUSU polls.
Out of 75,000 voters, just about 30,000 cast their ballot. Out of 81 colleges, just 48 colleges and four departments are affiliated to DUSU.
There are four posts -- president, vice-president, secretary and joint secretary. Two representatives from each college are also elected as councillors.
Outgoing DUSU president Nakul Bhardwaj of ABVP got 12,237 votes while his rival Ragni Nayak of NSUI polled about 10,739 votes.
St Stephen's College, one of the best colleges in town, does not participate in the polls and another good college, Hindu, has little impact on the results.
Kewal Sharma of St Stephen's says: "It (DUSU) is gathering of hoodlums. We don't want to associate with that."
Supriya Roy, who passed out of Rajdhani College, says: "I didn't go to vote in my first year because I saw good students kept themselves away from politics. My seniors advised me it was better for girls to stay at home on the polling day because of violence. I was scared.
"But I voted in my second year out of curiosity. And in the final year, I had lost interest and thought it was nothing but drama."
Unlike previous years, the university did not witness any major violence this year. After about 25 years, SFI has also revived the tradition of street plays for canvassing for its candidates.
Rabi Ray, professor of sociology at Delhi School of Economics, says: "Nothing is going to change by this kind of politics. They (candidates) do it for their own benefit. I don't see serious students into it."
Ray, who studied in Delhi University from 1972 to 76, was a Leftwing activist during his college days.
He recalls: "During those days also, students politics was not highly regarded. Elections were fought mostly on individual basis and not on ideological grounds. Various factions of the Congress party fought among themselves. There was no other major party."
The contestants who claim they can lead the nation in future are also bogged down with local issues like problems of transportation, books in the library and better academic environment.
These, of course, are rhetoric and repeated every year. Beautiful candidates, mostly girls, are most sought after.
ABVP's Anubhav Sapra, who is contesting for the post of vice-president, says: "This is university election. So we have to focus on the students' problems. We don't want to talk about national and international issues now."
Ziauddin Khan, a supporter of SFI and first year political science student, says0: "Student politics is important. University is like a workshop and we learn lots of things here. We are the future of the country and we can make a difference.
"Many people do not go to vote even in the parliamentary elections. This is a problem and we have to educate them."