Delhi University elections have traditionally been about Gujjar, Jat and Bihari votes. But this time there were a few surprises. Students from the Northeastern states, Ladakh and even women contestants, who are considered a weak political bet, played a more aggressive part in the process.
The Student Federation of India (SFI) put up Mukut Sharma from Assam as its presidential candidate for DUSU elections. Progressive Students’ Organisation’s (PSO) candidate for the joint secretary’s post was Jignet Stangin of Ladakh. Girl power was at its best at Ramjas that had an all woman independent panel for the first time in its history. The panel gave a good fight to the other factions supported by political groups.
SFI general secretary Albina Shakeel says DU students were more participative and the panels more representative this year.
“Our panel is selected on the basis of work and 'articulateness'. The bigger political groups may be careful about their Jat-Gujjar equation, as DUSU is all about the numbers game, but the break comes in terms of the interest in the polls. Disenchantment with major political groups may be there, but the interest has grown,” says Shakeel.
And the voting pattern just shows that, she adds. “Although more students have voted (70 per cent in North Campus and 55 per cent overall), the votes for many political groups have not grown. This means students have voted for candidates across the board on a range of issues.” Thanks to the anti-quota wave, the student turnout at this year’s elections has increased. Significantly many more came out to contest elections. These are your average apolitical students-disgruntled about “dirty DUSU politics” but bent on making a change by participating.
“Students’ politics is very male dominated — especially in Ramjas. Two factions of Jat and Bihari students keep fighting among themselves and other groups. Women have very little say. We felt since Ramjas has a women’s hostel on campus now, the time was right to contest the elections,” said Upasana Mishra, the presidential candidate of the group. The group was not successful this year but that has not broken their will. They want contest the college polls next year when they are “better prepared”.
Nayanjyoti Choudhury, a second year student of the same college, has been a little more successful at his electoral debut.
He has been elected the secretary of the college union. That Choudhury is from Assam and defies the Jat-Gujjar-Bihari vote bank politics of Delhi University is the talking point even among major political groups. Another student from Sikkim, Pema T Bhutia was also a contender.
But one thing that these candidates stress is the fact that they don’t believe in regional, communal or caste-based politics. “I did not ask for votes as a representative of a certain community. I pitched my campaign as an independent candidate — against community based politics. In fact, my manifesto had a feedback form asking students about their concerns. Most of their issues are academic in nature,” says Choudhury.
Ramjas principal Rajendra Prasad feels the college polls were indicative of a change in favour of merit. “The college secretary is the English topper. Students are giving a verdict against the Dada element. The Ragini Nayak brand of students’ activism that favoured academics had given a turn to DUSU activities. Students’ now know their priorities,” said Prasad.