As election season graces the University of Delhi (DU) again, here’s a take on how the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) elections open up a new world for the generic University student.
This is the time of the year where, when you take an e-rickshaw from the Vishwavidyalya metro station to your college in the North Campus, you will see the University in a certain mood of chaos, especially if you pass through classic arenas of drama like the Faculty of Arts, or the DUSU Office.
It is the time when you will see muscular Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) members dressed in all white, and malnourished All India Students’ Union (AISA) members dressed in loose kurtas, surrounding you from the right and the left, saying the same phrase “vote and support”.
The guard of my college usually stops all my non-college friends, asking for their ID cards or a letter signed by “Principal Madam”. But somehow, these days I see many of these people, reciting the phrase “vote and support”, entering the college easily.
The fake news-filled television channels told me that politicians enjoy certain benefits, as compared to the general population. Looking at these ‘student leaders’ go past the gate without any authentication makes me believe in these channels. Who knows, they might also get biryani at subsidised prices in the canteen! It is the time of DUSU elections, again.
Even if you don’t know anything about these elections like a stereotypical student from St. Stephen’s College, you will still be aware of them, thanks to the massive promotion on billboards, walls, flyers, pamphlets, and posters littering the roads. There is a so-called ‘Wall of Democracy’ in the campus and it has posters of different student parties being stuck over each other. Fighting over the space for small posters shows how ‘democratic’ this wall is!
The money spent on heavy promotion and campaigning, usually undertaken by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-backed ABVP and Indian National Congress-backed National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), certainly surpasses the campaigning amount of INR 5,000, as stated by the Lyngdoh Committee guidelines, every year. However, no one seems to take a strict (or any) action against this violation.
Now, with such pomp, fervour, protesting, shouting, far-fetched promises, realistic promises, just decisions, and unjust decisions, the non-political DU student is bound to feel that their electoral choice will not be of any value.
Why even show up for voting? What is this? The national elections? And what difference will a student’s vote make? The DUSU President will just be some other bearded chap (the chances of seeing a female DUSU President equals the chances of seeing Faculty of Arts without any protests i.e. very less) and we will forget him in a year. What will this DUSU President do? Influence national politics later on? Well actually, they might!
Ajay Maken, Vijay Goel, and the late Arun Jaitley, have all served as DUSU Presidents in their college days which clears our doubts. You might not vote for your favoured candidate on voting day and let a hooligan leader assume office, and then you might sip chai and preach about democracy.
But what if, years later, when you get famous and your framed face is hung on your college’s alumni wall, the framed face of the same hooligan is hung in the Parliament? Imagine placing powers of the nation in the hands of that problematic DUSU President of your college days!
The situation then can be explained in the words of Bipin Bhonsle, Home Minister of Maharashtra from Sacred Games, “Desh sankat mein hai! (The nation is in danger).”
For the experienced who are understandably tired and fed up of this supposedly fruitless exercise, it is uncertain whether we are living in an apocalypse right now but to avoid a future apocalypse in this country, let us try studying the DUSU candidates from now on, and “vote and support” our favourite candidate.
Shaurya Singh Thapa