Following the Vice Chancellor’s historical decision, you can now expect student political parties to hand you out pens and notebooks in exchange of your vote.
In a press conference last week, the University of Delhi’s Vice Chancellor passed an order to student political parties that allows them distribute freebies legally on only one day, preceding the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) elections. This decision comes right before the polls that are set to be conducted on the 12th of September this year. When the VC, Satish Saraf, was approached to reason this historical decision, he said, “The DUSU elections happen in an arbitrary manner, as no political party follows the Lyngdoh Committee guidelines anyway. Through this reform, we plan to introduce transparency in the system.” This report, however, is incomplete without the numerous terms and conditions it clearly states that need to be followed as protocol to distribute freebies legally. A few of these conditions are:
- Political parties can only distribute freebies on only one day, that day being at least one week prior to elections.
- Political parties can distribute only education related freebies like pens, registers, books and other similar items that add to the welfare of students.
- If the political party is found to be distributing alcohol or weed, its candidate would be prosecuted and disqualified to contest with immediate effect.
- No printed posters can be put up. This is in accordance with orders given by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to conduct a poster-less and digital campaign.
- A maximum cap of 10 lakhs would be set so that parties with lesser funds have no complaints.
- To help students make an informed decision, all those parties that partake in distribution of freebies are expected to arrange for seminars and workshops, wherein they explain in detail the functioning of DUSU and delineate the actions they will take to achieve all points in their manifestos.
Two schools of thoughts have emerged from this landmark decision- one which strongly opposes this decision and one which stands in staunch support for it. A second year student of Shaheed Bhagat Singh College under condition of anonymity, said, “I think the DU VC has gone berserk. His decision places small, genuine parties to a major disadvantage and ensures that parties with large funding get abundant visibility.” However, not everybody harbours the same viewpoint. Avni Bansal, President of Sangharsh Yuva Parishad is of the view that this decision will transform elections for the better. In conversation with DU Beat, she said, “Everybody knows that use of muscle power cannot be removed from elections. But, this can definitely be put to good use for the welfare of students. Students belonging to lower economic backgrounds can benefit immensely from this opportunity”
While we already have protests from opposition parties against this decision, the executive council has been tabled to discuss reforms in DUSU budget as well. Most students consider this to be another spurious decision by the VC and have signed petitions that would be forwarded to the administration. Whether it will face a roll back like other significant reforms or undergo rigorous implementation, only time will tell.
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Image Credits: Days Of The Year