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Monday, Dec 16, 2019

JNUSU elections 2019: Unique campaign modes this poll season

On the penultimate day of the election campaign, several candidates were seen using various modes of campaigning. Polling for the students’ union elections will be held on September 6.

education Updated: Sep 04, 2019 09:11 IST
Kainat Sarfaraz
Kainat Sarfaraz
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
JNUSU polls 2019
JNUSU polls 2019(sourced)
         

With stacks of parchas and hand-written pamphlets stacked neatly by his side, Shashi Bhushan Pandey, the Left Unity candidate for the post of councillor in Jawaharlal Nehru University, perches himself on the stairs outside School of Social Sciences (SSS) before singing.

“Hope this doesn’t violate the Lyngdoh Committee rules,” outgoing JNUSU president N Sai Balaji says, making other students around him smile. “As long as we don’t use loudspeakers, we are fine,” chimes in an All India Students Association (AISA) activist—the student organisation Shashi belongs to. The SSS postgraduate student, who is visually challenged, begins singing the musical rendition of Dastoor — a famous poem by revolutionary poet Habib Jalib.

On the penultimate day of the election campaign, several candidates were seen using various modes of campaigning. Polling for the students’ union elections will be held on September 6. “Since we are not allowed to put up posters, we have to come up with new methods of campaigning that will resonate with students. Singing songs with fellow candidates and uploading videos on social media are some of them,” Balaji, an AISA member, says.

In July, the university administration removed posters from the campus walls, stating they would violate the provisions of the Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act 2007. The decision was taken by the JNU Executive Council in March 2018. This has impacted the students’ union elections where postering is a major campaign move. Now, candidates can put up their pamphlets on designated boards outside schools and hostels. Though door-to-door campaigning and personal interactions still dominate campaigning in JNU, candidates are trying novel campaign methods this poll season.

“One of our candidates makes cartoons on issues and either prints them out or circulates them on WhatsApp groups with his name on them,” Balaji says. Scrolling through her phone, Chhatra Rashtriya Janata Dal (CRJD) presidential candidate Priyanka Bharti talks about the collection of WhatsApp stickers, GIFs, and memes her organisation has been using for their campaigns.

“Somebody shared a meme connecting Avengers character Thanos and Left Unity panel. It was hilarious and I think it helps connect with the students as well,” she says, adding that these stickers are shared on class WhatsApp groups. The National Students Union of India (NSUI) and Left Unity panel have also created WhatsApp stickers of their candidates bearing the name of the candidate and their photos.

The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) too said that it has been using new ideas for its campaign. “During the mashal juloos rally, we used mobile phone lights instead of torches,” ABVP JNU vice-president Sujeet Sharma says. A sponsored Facebook post promoting its candidates was also doing rounds during the campaign. “A former JNU student who was affiliated to the ABVP had created that page and made the sponsored post,” Sharma says. According to the guidelines laid down for JNUSU elections, the maximum and permitted expenditure per candidate is ₹5,000.