Delhi University elections


The din of electoral sloganeering has been replaced with the protests about EVM tampering. We shouldn’t worry about the noise though, it will die soon. We should be bothered about how the controversies around elections have been normalised. 

On the 13th of September 2018, results of the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) elections were to be declared. It was a big day not just for the candidates or for those who cover student politics, but also for big media houses. It was one of those occasions when the University of Delhi (DU) becomes important. The polls more or less reflect the mood of national politics, and it’s believed that those who rule DUSU will end up ruling the Parliament. A huge crowd of media vans, supporters, and police were deployed at the Community Center, GTB Nagar. The crowd, comprising overwhelmingly of men, competed with roaring slogans as a show of strength. They changed the names of their male leaders, but not one slogan was raised for the female candidates. You can’t help but notice the glaring absence of women in these types of public spaces.

A few days before the elections, Professor V.K. Kaul, Chief Election Officer, DU, published an appeal to the students of DU. Those, like us, who did read it realised that it was a copy of the last year’s appeal. The letter said 2017 in the body of its content. “Your decision to support only those candidates who respect the rules governing elections will go a long way in helping the University conduct the elections as per the law,” said the appeal. In its stoic language the appeal makes a great point, but let’s not forget where it is coming from. The DU administration constantly fails to conduct peaceful polls. During the course of voting, Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), whose own genesis is debatable, fails, the code of conduct is violated, and the candidates are never held accountable for their deeds.

The DU Election Commission doesn’t care, its appeal is a farce. After the initial hiccup, where one EVM was seen as faulty, the counting began again. A sole media person, closely followed by the representatives of political parties, would come out and give the latest update about the current vote count. The fact that these updates were greedily given and consumed after every 15 minutes shows how media considers trivial information important. By egging on the anticipation of results, it fails to focus on questions like, “Why are the representatives coming out and declaring the latest count to their waiting supporters when it’s against the code of conduct?” The fueling of passions can any second lead to a violent confrontation, then why is this prompting being allowed? We spotted a SFI candidate trying to get signals in spite of the jammers. I asked her, “Has your vote share increased?” She pointedly declined to comment and said they can’t discuss anything about it while counting is going on. I admire her faith in the rule of law.

The policemen stand lazily and gossip. You will notice those who come from the North-East huddled together, the female officers talking in a close group, their demarcation being obvious. “Will they protect us if the barricades break?” we wondered. At one point we discussed the exit strategy in case they broke loose. Detailed scanning of the location was quickly followed by a decision to meet at a designated point in case we get separated. Live coverage had become an occupational hazard. This is what the counting of mere 44% of voter turnout takes.

Soon enough, the results were declared. A loud public celebration broke; we scooted after clicking the generic pictures before things got messy. While dogging the rowdy celebrations, I recalled what our Editor, Kinjal Pandey, wrote in the last editorial, “DUSU politics was never too ugly, we just neglected what was ours for too long.” We deserved this, congratulations.

Feature Image Credits: The Hindustan Times

Niharika Dabral

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The Electronic Voting Machines used during DUSU2018 elections were not issued by the Election Commission of India, and this revelation casts a shadow on the credibility and fairness of the election and its outcome.

The Vote Counting for the Delhi University Students’ Union Elections 2018 was held on Wednesday, 13 September, and true to its legacy was riddled with controversy and skepticism owing to claims alleging that the elections were rigged after the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) stopped due to technical glitches. This was catalyzed by reports that the EVMs in question weren’t ECI-EVMS (Election Commission of India EVMs).

Amid rising confusion and mistrust, the office of the Chief Electoral Officer in Delhi issued a press release on Thursday, 14 September 2018, the contents of which clarified that the EVMs used in Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) election have not been issued by the Election Commission and seem to have been procured privately. This sparked debate among students and authorities regarding the credibility of EVMs and DUSU results.

Meanwhile, sources from theUniversity of Delhi said that the EVMs used during the student union polls were procured from the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) and were of a different module than those available with the Election Commission.

In a series of insinuating tweets by Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi claims that it’s impossible to manufacture or procure EVMs privately in India, and ownership of the same is a criminal offence. These claims remain unacknowledged by the office of the Electoral Commission of India.

The usage of EVMs in India has been challenged time and again with respect to credibility, reliability, and robustness. Since 2001, the issue of possible tampering of EVMs has been raised before various High Courts. ECI-EVMs are currently manufactured by only two Public Sector Undertakings (PSU) in India — Electronics Corp of India Ltd (ECIL), Hyderabad, and Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), Bengaluru. Private sale and manufacture of only ECI-EVMs are prohibited, while the law remains ambiguous about private sale, manufacture and ownership of all (those excluding ECI-EVMs) EVMs.

Sunny Chhillar, the former Presidential candidate from National Students’ Union of India added to the discourse by questioning the authenticity and source of the EVMs used, “Humein Jawab Chahiye ki Election Commission ke paas khud ki machines nahi thi kya? Humei ye bhi nahi batare ki EVMs kis firm ya organisation se li gyi. (We want to know, did the Election Commission not have their own EVMs? They won’t even inform us of the source of these privately acquired EVMs)”

Feature Image Credits: Office of Chief Electoral  Officer, Delhi

Nikita Bhatia
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One’s political acumen takes a tangible hit when confronted with DU politics. By the time one believes to have understood its nitty gritty, the politics changes its form.

Political symbolism is at its full bloom around the rainy month of August. Pamphlets, flyers and posters seem to take over almost every wall, classroom, canteen and road. Even cars seem to flaunt their ‘poster-friendly’ being at you. During this time, the multi-layered being of politics becomes more than obvious. Class level, department level, college level and university level elections happen around the same time at the varsity.

At the university level, it’s a contest between the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP, the student wing of BJP), National Students’ Union of India (NSUI, the student wing of Congress), All India Students’ Association (AISA, the student wing of CPI M-L), Students’ Federation of India (SFI, the student wing of CPI M) and Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti (CYSS, the student wing of AAP) apart from other smaller parties. Calling this contest a microcosm of mainstream elections would be an understatement, as the number of voters in varsity is roughly the size of a Vidhan Sabha electorate.

The diverse forms of campaigning techniques make it clear that there’s no need to be a part of any political party in order to be political. Political speeches and deliverances become a common scene during the new session, with promotional hoardings acting as backdrops. You’re bound to find many on-the-move political pundits around the campus during this time. Unmissable is the insightfulness displayed by rickshaw waalas whose predictions about rain and elections never seem to go wrong.

Featured Image Credits : www.indianexpress.com

Sidharth Yadav
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With the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) elections right around the corner, students of Delhi University, notably from Law Faculty, have handed a memorandum to the election officer to include a ‘None of the above’ or NOTA button in the upcoming DUSU elections 2015-16 which will be held on 11th September.

As conveyed by the students in the memorandum, they believe that in DUSU elections, voting percentage is very low and they claim the main reason behind this slow voter turnout in the current time is due to the absence of NOTA button in Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).

The students have related this with India’s past history of recording negative voting during elections and the introduction of NOTA button two years ago. Verdict of the Supreme Court came in the year of 2013 on the petition of PUCL, in which Honorable Supreme Court directed the election commission of India to provide NOTA button in the EVM. This was to preserve the legacy of negative voting which is cardinal principle of democracy. Prior to this, there was a mechanism present to record negative voting.

In the existing Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) elections, the students conveyed through the memorandum that a dissatisfied student voter won’t turn up on the day of elections to vote if none of the candidates are of their choice. However, they are hopeful that if the NOTA option is provided, then reluctant student voters will begin turning up to vote which will increase credibility and acceptability of DUSU elections amongst the DU student body. They believe it will initiate a gradual but systematic change and only those students will contest elections who believe in the principles of accountability and integrity.

Shaina Ahluwalia

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