Hans Raj College is not known for violent outbursts and the last time some unpleasant incident took place that was over a decade back. But college officials say that Monday’s incident was more a reflection of the politics in DUSU. With the DUSU elections due shortly, many feel this could be a taste of thing in store.
“Elections are due, and this is a good opportunity for the DUSU office-bearers to showcase their muscle-power and claim to be champions of students’ rights,” said a faculty member. In fact, such incidents are not uncommon before elections even in DU which is considered an elite university. It was precisely to curb such tendencies, among other reasons, that apex court formed a committee under the former chief election commissioner of India, J M Lyngdoh, for cleaning up university elections.
The committee has placed its report in front of the court which is still to give a view on the matter. “The report recommends a set of pretty strong regulations which should be the basis of reform. Although the job is difficult, we expect a positive result here as in the ragging case. Things have improved immensely after the SC stepped in,” said Zoya Hasan, a member of the Lyngdoh Committee. Among other issues, the Lyngdoh Committee report has identified that the problem of money and muscle becoming crucial in an election was directly linked to the size of the university.
“Size is a problem. While money is required in large universities like DU where over 1.5 lakh students study, things are much worse in places like Allahabad University, BHU and Patna University — all large universities. The solution could be having elections for smaller constituencies like colleges, and then letting the elected representatives choose a core committee as was the case in DU many years ago. That cuts down the political stakes in large universities,” said a source.
DUSU president Ragini Nayak, however, feels that the NSUI activists joined in the violence only as “a last resort”. “Violence is not reflective of DUSU politics. Things have changed a lot in the last 5 years. Students were provoked by the principal’s autocratic response,” Nayak explains. While the Delhi University top brass has taken a strong line on the Hans Raj issue, they also concede that it is tough to plug the flow of liquor and money into college hostels during elections.
“It can’t be curbed so easily. It takes time to uproot some practices that have been around for many years. You either adopt coercive method or persuasive ones. As a university we prefer the latter,” said Deepak Pental, V-C Delhi University.
DU proctor Gurmeet Singh, on the other hand, says a game plan will devised in the academic council meeting preceding the DUSU polls. “We have started by putting a ban on all posters used in campaign as a lot of fights are over rights of display at vantage points. There will four ‘Walls of Democracy” where members of all the groups would be allowed to display their posters,” said Singh. How far that goes in ensuring a peaceful election is to be seen.