A carefully planned departure from its last year’s strategy led to the National Students Union of India (NSUI) grabbing the all-important post of the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) president in the recent polls.
The big victory came despite the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) going all-out to cash in on Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign last month.
The post had eluded the NSUI, the student’s wing of the Congress, for the past three consecutive years. In 2010 elections, the NSUI had won only one seat — that of a joint secretary.
Last year’s failed experiment of “no-caste politics” or “no gifts and freebies” and wooing the candidates through “constructive debates” forced the Congress and its youth and student wings to change the strategy this time.
While the caste factor played a major role in the selection of candidates, freebies and gifts contributed significantly to the outcome of the elections.
This year, the NSUI also distributed free food and movie coupons, notepads, pens, pencils and other gifts, among the prospective voters.
Some student organisations reportedly distributed free liquor, too, to woo voters.
“Debates work only in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and not in Delhi University (DU). Distributing gifts is the mantra for winning the DUSU elections,” a NSUI functionary said on condition of anonymity. “Moving in swanky cars in JNU is looked down upon, but in DU it is a huge attraction and is well received,” he added.
The Congress had also made the elections a prestige issue this time, as the polls came in the wake of an overwhelming response to Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign from youth across the country.
A team of senior leaders, including Oscar Fernandes and Mukul Wasnik (both general secretaries), Congress Working Committee members Luizinho Faleiro and Dhani Ram Shandil and All India Congress Committee secretary Major Ved Prakash, was formed to oversee the election arrangements and conduct extensive campaigning in both the campuses.
This year also, the party focused on students from the north-east, who constitute a major chunk of voters. About 20,000 DU students are from the north-east.