After 18 long years, the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) elected an independent candidate as its president on Saturday after a majority of the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-backed nominees were barred from contesting for violating the poll code.
Manoj Chaudhary, a student of the department of Buddhist Studies, defeated Bajinder Singh of the All India Students Federation (AISF), affiliated to the Communist Party of India (CPI), by just 11 votes.
While Chaudhary got 5,391 votes, Bajinder Singh finished with 5,380. The result was declared after suspense-filled hours.
It was also a first for Samajwadi Party as its candidate won one of the four top seats - the joint secretary's - in the students' election.
"This kind of a verdict has come after a really long time," JM Khurana, the chief returning officer of Delhi University, told IANS.
The last independent to get elected as DUSU president was Rajiv Goswami, who set himself ablaze in 1990 to protest quotas for other backward classes. He won in 1991.
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the National Students Union of India (NSUI), which are backed by the BJP and Congress respectively and which traditionally dominate DUSU, won one seat each.
Kirti Wadhera (ABVP) was elected vice-president and Arshdeep Kaur (NSUI) the secretary. Wadhera studies at Miranda House and Kaur studies at the Law Faculty.
Anupriya Tyagi was elected the joint secretary. She is a student of Hansraj College and fought the polls as a candidate of the Samajwadi Party's student wing Samajwadi Chatra Sabha.
According to varsity authorities, Wadhera defeated independent Anurag Sharma by over 2,500 votes. Kaur defeated Ravi Kaushik of Hansraj College by over 4,000 votes. Tyagi defeated the Students Federation of India's Natasha Nerwal by over 3,000 votes.
The DUSU elections took place on Friday. The vote count began on Saturday morning in the Civil Lines area of north Delhi. Twenty-nine students were in the fray for the four posts.
Soon after his victory, president-elect Chaudhary said: "I was confident of winning. The win has strengthened my trust in the whole system."
ABVP supporters said Chaudhary got their backing after their candidate was disqualified from contesting.
"My friends and I appreciate the strong resolve of the university for a fair election," said Aditya Raj Kaul, an undergraduate student in the north campus. He also said that three women candidates winning was a good sign. "Its a good sign for all political outfits. It speaks of the maturity of DU students."
Six candidates from the ABVP and NSUI were barred from contesting the elections for violating the rules on election expenditure. They were found spending more money than the Rs 5,000 permitted per candidate, using cars and organising rallies for their campaign.
All this was deemed to violate the recommendations of a panel headed by former chief election commissioner JM Lyngdoh.
Gurmeet Singh, the chief election officer of the univertsity said: "However, the result of the candidates mentioned at Serial Nos 1, 2 and 3 (president, vice president and secretary) is provisional and subject to the outcome of an enquiry already in progress against them."
The enquiry is on whether the trio had also violated the poll code suggested by the Lyngdoh committee.