With the culmination of Delhi University Students’ Elections (DUSU) elections, let’s look back and answer the age-old question : Is election manifesto more important than political ideology while voting? Or is it the opposite?
On 12th September, students from all over the University of Delhi (DU) gathered in their colleges to cast their votes for the annual DUSU elections. For the freshers, this was another step on their path towards being a part of a democracy. For the seniors, it was a chance to re-evaluate their choices and right the wrongs.
However, as the election season swings around, we find ourselves questioning whom to vote for. There is a rise in environmental issues related rallies, women development meetings, fee reduction movements – anything and everything that could help in gathering votes. Young men and women are seen standing outside the Vishwavidyalaya metro station distributing pamphlets expressing promises the parties make every year, and the Faculty of Arts keeps bustling with movements and speeches. It is here that we find ourselves questioning whom to vote for – do we vote for the party which we have believed in since we learned how to spell politics, or is it the party which promises to get us subsidised metro rides?
Ideologies become a part of our identity as we enter the politically active space that is DU. Students can be seen aligning themselves with the Saffron or associating with the Left in friendly conversations and college debates all over the campus. After all, political alignment helps in giving a sense of what a person believes in. Political ideologies, thus, serve as a compass that gives direction to both the candidates and the voters- not only politically, but also socially and economically. “To me, ideology matters. If a party is elected, their manifesto completion may be subjected to them, but their ideology will never change,” says Chhavi Bahmba, a student at Sri Venkateswara College.
“When I go out to vote, I look for whom I, as a person and as a part of my state, my country, my community identity, and my gender, can relate to the most. At the end of the day, every political party campaigns for the same thing but it’s their take on controversial issues that set them apart,” adds Faaria Hilaly, a first-year student from Miranda House.
In contrast, manifestos have been one of the most important bases to make a choice. While the issues and agenda of politics during the election are set much before the publishing of the manifesto, a manifesto serves as an official statement which lets us know what we might be getting, by getting them the iron throne. Similarly, the history of the developments by the party plays an equally important role in swaying the votes. While an attractive manifesto with a similar track of work could do wonders in moving the heaviest rocks, nothing is more unappealing than a poor track record. “I feel that their manifesto matters more, as does their history of work. It’s important to consider whether they work or just paint pretty pictures,” says Nighat, a student at Aryabhatta College.
“I had asked my parents to not vote for the party in power despite identifying with them, seeing how its economic measures have caused our business trouble. But they identify themselves too strongly with it,” adds an Economics student who did not wish to be named. “I think both are complementary to each other,” says Anshula Basil, a first- year student at Miranda House. Since an ideological stance can often be a privilege that arises out of socio-economic conditions, the manifesto we choose ends up becoming a better representation of what we want. Often, a manifesto is the result of an ideology pushed far. Which is why, on a closer look, the two are not mutually exclusive.
Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archives