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Delhi University elections around the corner, posters and graffiti deface Delhi walls

Political parties say candidates themselves use graffiti and paste posters and the practice does not have official backing.

delhi Updated: Aug 28, 2017 18:44 IST
Ridhima Shukla
Ridhima Shukla
Hindustan Times
Delhi news,Delhi university,DU elections
Names of ABVP and NSUI candidates can be seen scribbled on walls in huge bold letters and on posters pasted across the city.(Sushil Kumar/HT PHOTO)

Whether you like it or not, ABVP’s Ankiv Baisoya and NSUI’s Rocky Tushir will greet you as soon as you take the flyovers towards Lajpat Nagar or Moolchand.

With the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) elections scheduled to be held in September, candidates of student wings of political parties and their supporters have taken up the task of making a mark in the city quite literally.

Names of BJP-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and Congress- affiliated National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) candidates can be seen scribbled on walls in huge bold letters and on posters pasted across metro stations’ walls, college campuses, under bridges and even hospital buildings in different parts of the city.

Among the rules that govern students’ union elections is the Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act 2007, which says anyone who “defaces any property in public view by writing or marking with ink, chalk, paint or any other material, except for purposes of indicating the name of the property owner, will be punished”.

The act says that the guilty will “be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to Rs 50,000, or with both”.

Last year, the National Green Tribunal directed the Delhi University to ensure that no paper is used for campaigning on campuses, but littering continues - not only in the campus but at public places in different parts of the city too.

The campaign

When approached by HT, both the parties said the candidates themselves resort to using graffiti and pasting posters but this practice does not get official backing from the political party itself.

“We don’t support any acts of defacing public property. Whatever graffiti was found in the city was made by the candidates or their supporters. Personally, we snub such acts and have asked the candidates not to resort to such measures of campaigning,” ABVP’s Delhi state secretary Bharat Khatana told HT.

He also alleged that other parties sometimes write the names of ABVP’s candidates on the walls to malign the party’s as well as the candidate’s image.

“Other parties also paste posters or write on the walls to defame us sometimes. In such cases, we have made police complaints to stop them. Meanwhile, our candidates have been strictly asked to only use the ‘wall of democracy’ in the Delhi University campus for campaigning,” Khatana added.

“The candidates also get sponsors and supporters on board in different areas to help them write their names on the walls. We have asked them to discontinue this practise since it is illegal,” he said.

The ABVP member said they had asked the candidates to start the process of removing their names and posters from the walls they had spoiled.

The party started campaigning for the polls from Friday. “We will approach students in all the colleges in DU and use social media to promote the candidates this year,” Khatana said.

The NSUI, which on Thursday released its manifesto, however, said they had no knowledge of allegations made by the ABVP blaming other parties of defamation.

“We have taken a firm stand against defacement of public property and writing on the walls. However, it is difficult to control each and every candidate of our party. We cannot impose but we do dissuade them from making such graffiti,” AICC in-charge for NSUI Ruchi Gupta told HT.

“For example, if I do approach our party candidate Rocky Tushir and ask him about the graffiti and the posters, he is likely to blame his workers and supporters. Sometimes, our candidates also cannot help themselves when they see names of other parties on the walls. It makes them promote themselves too by resorting to such behaviour,” she added.

She said the NSUI was taking steps to put an end to this practice but it will happen over time and not overnight.

The Congress-affiliated party will distribute pamphlets, approach students individually, perform street plays and use social media to campaign for the upcoming elections.

Voices of disapproval

DU students are among those annoyed by such graffiti and posters defacing public property, especially the ones inside their campus.

A group of students came together last year and launched the “No Poster Party” (NPP) campaign to ensure that the elections are paperless and clean.

“Due to our campaigning, this year there are less papers and posters lying around the campus. The ABVP has started using flags while the NSUI members are hanging posters on ropes. However, names of candidates can still be seen scribbled on the walls across the North campus and across the city in spray paint,” said Marya, one of the co-founders of NPP.

We approached the authorities asking them to allow us to make murals on the walls to cover the posters and names to beautify the campus, but we were denied the opportunity, said Swastika, another co-founder of NPP.

“The authorities keep saying they will take action against those vandalising the property but nothing has been done till now. They also stop short of doing anything since both the parties have strong political affiliations and a lot of manpower which deters anyone from saying anything against these people’” she added.

The spellings of the candidates’ names are also different in different areas, they said. “It is likely done to brush off the blame from themselves when authorities or the police come calling,” said Marya.

While left-wing student organisation All India Students Association (AISA) is also in the fray for the elections, students say they have not yet seen any posters and graffiti by them.

Last year, the NSUI managed to win one of four seats in the DUSU panel — that of the joint secretary -- while the ABVP has been in power for the past four years.

First Published: Aug 28, 2017 18:44 IST