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Home > News > Report

A student election on the scale of a general election

Vicky Nanjappa in New Delhi | September 07, 2007 17:26 IST

A committee approved by the Supreme Court had lay down the guidelines. The high court had to intervene on polling day. A sting operation had exposed how candidates were splurging on campaigning. High profile canvassing and even higher security detailing. All these not for a general election or an assembly election. It was the election for the Delhi University Students' Union.

Polling for the posts of president, vice president, general secretary and joint secretary commenced at 8.30 am and concluded by 11.30 pm. Students voted in 120 polling booths of 52 colleges of the Delhi University. Electronic Voting Machines were used.

History was created this year when two candidates to the posts of general secretary and joint secretary won unopposed. The other candidates to the post were disqualified as they did not meet the criterion.

The candidates of the Bharatiya Janata Party-backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad took full advantage of the sting operation conducted on the Congress backed National Students Union of India candidate Devraj Tehlan. The sting operation showed how candidates were spending money in abundance while the committee had specified that each candidate could spend only Rs 5,000.

Former president of the union Nakul Bharadwaj said it was a slap on democracy.

Ragini Nayak, former president, NSUI, however, accused the media of targeting just one party. She questioned as to why a sting was not conducted on the other parties, which she claimed were also flouting the norms. She then raised her voice and shouted: "Desh ki gaaliyan suni hai, ABVP khooni hai."

Allegations continued to be hurled against each other and television channels had a gala time and at times even added fuel to the fire. The Rapid Action Force and a host of police personnel who were present at the spot had to intervene to separate the warring factions.

On the whole it did not seem like an election to a students union. The youth hurled accusations at Sonia Gandhi [Images], A B Vajpayee, and at times even Mahatma Gandhi [Images] and Nathuram Godse were dragged into the sloganeering.

Police officers said there were complaints of people from outside being brought in to canvass for the elections. 

The security in-charge, Devesh Srivastava, said 75 such persons had been taken into custody. He also said they had stepped up security and no untoward incident had been reported.

For the common student, it was business as usual. "This tamasha will end today. Who cares who wins, they are all the same," said Netha Singh, a second year BA student in the university.

Nihal Sharma, a final year law student, feels that the elections are getting more political and the student spirit is lacking. He says the candidates do not do anything for the students. After the elections, they are too busy acting as organisers for the political parties.

Security was tight and there were more policemen at the polling booths than students.

Since day one, the election was mired in controversy. A six-member committee headed by former election commissioner J M Lyngdoh was appointed on the directions of the Supreme Court to study the specifics of the student union elections. The committee had barred any student from participating in the elections, if he or she had any arrears in the examination. Apart from this, the committee also banned putting up of posters and also limited the election expense to Rs 5000 per candidate.

However, all the recommendations seemed to have been ignored. The city is full of posters. A sting operation showed that the candidates had spent almost Rs 16 lakh on the elections.

After the recommendations were made, at least 10 persons were disqualified from contesting. Some of these candidates even went to court, but were shown the door with a direction to follow the recommendations.