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How important is party, caste and gender in DUSU elections?

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Are there certain patterns that DUSU elections follow? How much of a role does ones caste, gender and socio-economic background play? With election season round the corner, we try to answer these questions.

Winning the students’ union elections in the University of Delhi is an immense feat. Major national political student parties like Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), National Students Union of India (NSUI), and All India Students Association (AISA) amongst others are the key players in the Delhi University Student’s Union (DUSU) elections.  Along with muscle-power and extensive campaigning, a lot of strategy goes into the DUSU elections. Are people from a community, gender, or political party more likely to win this election? We try to answer these questions through an analysis of past election data.

1) The rise of ABVP -The last time NSUI won all four DUSU posts was in 2007, some ten years ago. In the last ten years, ABVP has won the DUSU elections seven times (the criterion being winning three or more seats). Out of these seven times, in 2009 the ABVP won one seat. Howsoever the President (independent) and Joint Secretary (Samajwadi Chattra Sabha) publicly credited ABVP for their victory. Only twice was NSUI able to win majority seats in the panel. In 2012, both ABVP and NSUI won two seats each. In the last ten years, Delhi University has seen six ABVP, one independent (credits ABVP) and three NSUI Presidents. This shift in voting patterns is unconventional since DUSU had a NSUI stronghold for a long time.  From 1996 to 2008, NSUI maintained its position as the key player in DUSU politics, winning the majority of seats.

Source: @nupursharmabjp on  Twitter
Nupur Sharma was the DUSU President in 2008. She won the Presidential seat for ABVP ending a long NSUI stronghold, surprising many. There has been no female DUSU President after her. Source: @nupursharmabjp on Twitter

2) Fall in the participation of women – Between 2011 and 2017, out of the twenty-four candidates that became a part of the DUSU panel, only five were women. The role of women in the last six years has been limited to the positions of General Secretary and Joint Secretary, with ABVP’s Priyanka Chhawri (Vice President) being the only exception. It would be strange perhaps to find out that women were not always relegated to the role of a token in DUSU politics. In fact between 2001 and 2010 women won twelve seats in DUSU overall with five of them being President and two being Vice President. Where there should have been an improvement in the position of women, there has been a decline. This fall in the number of female candidates winning and the lack of female DUSU Presidents is strange. In fact, while the awareness about gender-equality and feminism is greater than ever. While DUSU President of 2008, Nupur Sharma, believes this is because posters with faces were no more allowed; Ragini Nayak, DUSU President of 2005, believed it is so because the number of days of campaigning has been shortened to four or five days, and this kind of aggressive campaigning is easier for men to accomplish. (Source: Hindustan Times)

L-R:  Priyanka Chhawri, Ankit Singh and Amit Tanvar after winning the 2016 DUSU elections. All four post holders in the 2016-17 DUSU union are from either the Jat or Gurjar community.
L-R: Priyanka Chhawri, Ankit Singh and Amit Tanvar after winning the 2016 DUSU elections. All four post holders in the 2016-17 DUSU union are from either the Jat or Gurjar community. Source: The Indian Express

3) The dominance of the Jat and Gurjar community – From 2011 to 2017, every DUSU President has been from either the Jat or the Gurjar community. The last four DUSU Presidents belonged to the Gujjar community while the two before them from the Gurjar community. In fact not just Presidents, but often the entire panel hails from these two communities. For instance, in 2016-17 all four post holders hailed from the Jat or Gurjar community. This dominance of certain communities in DUSU is recent but it clearly shows how major student parties are not shy of fielding candidates hailing from influential communities who have immense social capital at their disposal, in order to win.  

4) Emerging alternatives to ABVP and NSUI – Parties like AISA and the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) have continuously been gaining relevance in DUSU politics. In the 2016 elections, on almost all posts, AISA candidates managed to secure the third highest vote share, thus securing its position as the third party in the DUSU political scene. It managed to secure a total of 30,000 seats. It also managed to secure an increase in its vote share for each post.


Feature Image Credits: The Indian Express

Kinjal Pandey

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Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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