“We are here to end money muscle politics in Delhi University student union polls” said Anmol Panwar, Chatra Yuva Sangrash Samiti (CYSS) Vice President. CYSS is looking forward to country’s biggest student union polls — Delhi University Student Union Elections (DUSU) scheduled for 11 September. It claims that the “common students’ body” stands against the ill practices, like spending lakhs of money, using muscle power, glamour and party culture, being carried out in DUSU polls for decades now. One cannot deny that with such claims AAP’s student wing was able to create a flutter of hope among the students of DU. However, CYSS stands exposed as the streets are filled with printed posters, huge bill boards awaits students inside and outside campus and hundreds of bus stops and metro display boards have results of CYSS’s survey polls on them.
“The evident difference between words and deeds line them (CYSS) up with the BJP backed ABVP (Akhil Bharitya Vidhyathi Parishad) and Congress’ NSUI (National Student Union of India). How can one justify the huge amount of money they are pumping in advertisement?” questions Anmol Ratan of All India Students’ Association (AISA).
Also, the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations prohibit student candidates from using any form of printed material or posters. Even famous TV journalist Ravish Kumar couldn’t hide his displeasure over the number of posters and shared pictures questioning the reason behind such a strategy.
An agency with expertise in DUSU poll promotions tells Tehelka that each round of 10,000 posters costs INR 25,000. CYSS has been putting up such posters aggressively for a month and a half now. The billboards are owned by civic bodies, whose rent, clubbed together, runs into lakhs for a couple of days.
Over several decades ABVP and NSUI have been fighting bipolar elections. Last year’s elections were a tripolar contest between ABVP, AISA and NSUI. CYSS’s rise after AAP’s landslide victory also meant huge pressure on the traditional parties to change the conventional line of politics where the students are lured with freebies and parties. As early signs of change, ABVP stopped its members from sticking posters and called for a paperless campaign.
CYSS had fair chances of changing the way and means of contesting DUSU elections and hence cleansing the DUSU politics. However, the AAP student wing chose to go by already set rules deploying MLAs outside DU colleges to garner support, using glamour quotient Raghu Ram and finally inducting ex- ABVP members in the party.
Also, the party’s claim of conducting an issue-based election campaign falls flat as they failed to take a call on the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS), which is at present the biggest crisis of DU. In a recent opinion poll on the CBCS, 94 percent of 24,000 participants have rejected the system.
There were question marks over credentials of the survey poll–“DU Pulse Poll” by Comm Sense agency, in which CYSS got 45 percent votes. One fails to figure out any detail about existence of CommSense. CYSS covered Delhi with flexes, posters and banners declaring that it is winning DUSU polls. ”I cannot give exact details about the agency or sample size of the survey right now. But it is sure that our opponents have panicked and hence they are calling the survey results fake,” Anmol Panwar tells Tehelka.
Delhi University election commission said it is observing the developments and waiting for candidature to finalised. “DU can cancel the candidature violating Lyngdoh norms if complaints with documented proof are submitted with us.”
The same guidelines prohibit political party leaders from entering poll bound DU campus. CYSS, however, strategically managed to bring DU freshers’ to its leaders under the name of DU Rocks, a music concert organised on 1 September, where Kejriwal appealed to students to vote for CYSS. While the left organisations are seeing CYSS’s concert as an attempt to buy votes, the ruling ABVP feels that it has gone beyond benchmarks set by NSUI in terms of ill practices. “Why Kejriwal and CYSS are trashing Lyngdoh guidelines? CYSS has lost fair chances of bringing reform to DU politics,” says Rohit Chahal, ABVP’s national secretary.