Since the last five years, the issues involved in Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) elections have always revolved around women’s safety on campus, the number of DTC buses exclusively for DU students, provision of more number of hostels, and a much hue and cry to increase the number of colleges. We can see the deployment of a lot of money and muscle power, as well as caste politics, being essentially ingrained in the DUSU politburo, with special preference to Jat, Gujjar, and Gurjar candidates who deploy their own private machinery to boost their electoral campaigns. Rising violence on campus has been a concern for all student wings, though all of them have insinuated violence as and when the need arose. Very few female candidates contest for the polls and thus, there is a visible undercurrent of patriarchy in the trends of DUSU candidature.
ABVP, the party that won three seats last year and has been a dominant player on the DUSU grounds, has demanded more transparency in the sports, ECA and quota admissions, concessions in admission to students of rural background, an equitable fee structure across colleges, free Wi-Fi services in every department and college of DU, a Central Placement Cell to work in tandem with Skill Development Department of the government, metro feeder bus facility at major metro stations near colleges, facilitate more DUSU affiliation and a demand for a permanent DUSU office. Some highlights of their manifesto are – efforts to arrange U-Special Generators for evening colleges, struggle for establishment of East and West Campuses, digitalisation of Central and Arts Library, reiteration of their demand for a Sports Complex in South Campus, issue of University Health Card to all students, student insurance of Five Lakh Rupees for every student at the premium rate of 1 rupee per day, demand for water coolers in every 200 metres of Chhatra Marg and foot-over bridge on Ring Road near Khalsa bus stand, another near GTB Nagar red light and a third at Kingsway Camp main red light. ABVP’ s manifesto is quite extensive, specific, detailed, and gives a holistic view for the entire University by covering almost all the issues related to students.
NSUI is quite generalist in its manifesto and guaranteed preparation of a Charter of Students’ Rights in consultation with the students that will constitute issues relating to pending scholarships, fee rationalisation of fee across colleges (Rs.3000-3500 per annum), process and timeline for various certificates from university, no moral policing or curbs on women’s freedom, tracking incidents of rioting and violent protests to ensure accountability of perpetrators, provision of dialogue and institutional mechanisms to resolve college-level issues with college councils, ensure exposure for students in the form of guest lectures, seminars and internship opportunities and a transparent DUSU budget. In their bid for ‘ Take back DU’, NSUI demanded special support for first generation learners, students from marginalised communities, remedial classes and English tutoring to be provided for such students, (Similar to ABVP demands as well). NSUI demanded rent control for private PGs and counselling for students in distress. Their highlights were special Nodal officers for North East students, revised diet rates for sports quota students, U-special buses, and active grievance redress Cell to be opened.
AISA, which is the only party to vouch for a female Presidential candidate this year, raised concerns over rising hooliganism in campus, problems for visually-challenged students, lack of gender sensitisation committees in colleges, the imposition of centralised power of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, and privatisation of higher education. Major highlights and demands include: ‘A Room of My Own’ movement to ensure hostel facility for all including PH students, active grievance Committee to look into issues of scholarships, admission etc., active committees on sexual harassment, institutionalising the practice of General Body Meetings along the lines of DUTA to ensure responsive functioning of DUSU, reform of DUSU election system by creating effective forums of debate like Presidential Debates in clusters of colleges to ensure informed choice and reduced use of money and muscle power. The issues of sanitisation, DTC bus facilities, digitalisation of DTC bus passes, improved infrastructure, security of women etc., remain common to all the three manifestos.
These are the various demands and steps that the ABVP, NSUI, and AISA have in mind and their unique action plans to reach out to students once they come to power. Such issues must actually be raised in debates across colleges in order to make students aware but due to the hoopla over propaganda politics and money-muscle, these interesting demands do not come to the forefront of DUSU playground and thus, the elections lose their vitality in the eyes of students. We tried our best to make you aware of their concerns and charters, to help you in making an informed decision. It is up to you now to make the right choice. Do exercise your power to vote and cast your vote on September 12.