DUSU election


TW// Sexual harassment & casteism

After a gap of three years, the Delhi University campuses have been covered in the hues of Student Union Elections. However, the true face of these elections may be found beneath the democratic facade. While money and power are the most addressed sides of this dark coin, there is another side that frequently gets overlooked: caste politics and gender-based violence.

 The Delhi University Student Union (DUSU) Elections are being held after a gap of three years because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Pamphlets, roads covered with paper cut-outs, banners, posters, fights, and long traffic jams marked the beginning of the campaign of various student union organisations across campuses at DU. From the north campus to the south campus and off-campus colleges, every college at the University of Delhi is draped in the colours of elections. However, what lurks behind these hues is a mix of democracy and oppression.

Hundreds of posters, thousands of paper cut-outs all over the streets, and rallies of black and white cars tossing the same paper cut-outs you’re walking on speak volumes about how democratic and accessible the DUSU elections are. However, beyond these money and power dynamics lies the worst face of the DUSU elections: an open breeding ground for sexual harassment and casteism.

It is difficult to distinguish the inappropriate advantage taken of such packed surroundings at large-scale rallies with hundreds of party workers yelling slogans and the names of their candidates. Whether it’s a kind but unwelcome handshake or being unexpectedly touched in a throng or a bunch of guys gazing at every woman moving by, footage of mobs of men forcibly entering women’s colleges appears all over the internet every year. The fact that there are no proper caps on crowd control or codes of conduct gives these people the pass to repeat it again and again.

I have witnessed sexual harassment take place during election events. As soon as it gets crowded and people start getting pushed around, they start touching you everywhere. The language they use makes us feel disgusted. Right now, a person approached us and said: ‘Kya laundiya khadi kar rakhi hain’ (What women have they made stand here). We are also students, so what is wrong with us supporting any party just because we are women? The opposition, especially, really tries to make us feel uncomfortable as a part of their own political agenda.

– Two female party supporters in an interview to Newslaundry

 Students find it difficult to speak out about sexual harassment on campus due to the rising degree of fear culture established by these mobs of men. This year, too, hordes of ABVP members forcibly entered Miranda House’s campus twice.

When any left-wing organisation stages a tiny protest, massive police forces are deployed. They are sometimes detained for “disturbing the peace on campus. However, in incidents like these, where ABVP men forcibly entered the campus of a women’s college twice, there will be no police deployment or action, even after complaints.

-A student from the women’s college of DU 

Apart from toxic masculinity and a free pass for sexual harassment, caste-based violence is also common during elections. These elections are dominated by Jats and Gujjars. Every DUSU president from 2011 to 2017 was either Jat or Gujjar. These two communities dominate not just the president but the whole panel. Voting in the name of caste is also very common.

TW// Casteism

I heard my classmates say, ‘Ye AISA waale SC/ST ke chapri logo ki toli hai, isko kon vote dega’ (AISA is a group of people from the SC/ST community, who’s going to vote for them).

– A third-year BSc. student

 Vote appeals based on caste are fairly prevalent. Even upper-caste voters say it would be a disgrace if a lower-caste person won the election. In 2018, the Delhi Police released an advisory urging students not to vote based on caste. They warned candidates who appealed for votes based on their caste.

The larger question is whether left-wing politics, which is more issue-centric and nuanced in its narrative, is putting pressure on bigger parties to reform themselves. The pinjra tod campaign that seeks to make hostel and paying guest accommodation regulations less regressive and restrictive for women students is refreshing to see. In the past year, we can see a change in the way the NSUI has conducted itself, and this could have been an influence of left-leaning groups like the All India Students’ Association (AISA).

-Apoorvanand, professor at the Department of Hindi, University of Delhi in an article by Firstpost (2018)

The present DUSU elections have their foundation on four pillars: money, muscle, masculinity, and caste. The lack of a strict code of conduct and the administration’s inability to maintain a check on hooliganism give these individuals a free pass to do such things again and again. Whether it’s blocking traffic for their campaign, forcibly entering women’s colleges, or instilling terror in caste and gender minorities.

A safe, free, and fair election is often demanded. While most students would want to remain bystanders to the drama of these elections, such a stage is unachievable. Unification is required to bring about a complete transformation in the electoral process. Until then, the DUSU elections will be viewed as a reflection of the greater electoral landscape rather than a democratic practice.


Featured Image Credits: The Hindu

Read Also: Power and Politics in the Delhi University Students’ Union


Dhruv Bhati

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‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) was introduced in DUSU elections last year. Since then, it has gained popularity as represented by the number of voters opting for it. Here is a look at why this is happening.                                          

Three years and four rounds of national assembly elections ago, the ‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) option was inducted into the Indian electoral system. It was only in 2016 that the Delhi University Student’s Union (DUSU) election followed this trend. The concept of NOTA is democratic, as it gives the voter an option to reject an electoral candidate. It represents dissent and showcases that the voters are not satisfied with the particular candidates representing a specific manifesto in an election.

However, the question then arises: Is NOTA really influential practically? In our electoral system, NOTA in status quo, has no electoral value. Even if the situation emerges where NOTA gets more votes than any candidate in the elections, the candidate who has secured the highest number of votes after NOTA will still hold office. This expression of rejection through casting your vote guarantees no accountability, since it does not constitute a re-election or change in candidacy. The very fact that NOTA is emblematic is the dreadful reason why it cannot be successful in an illiterate and puerile democracy like ours, where charisma and ascendancy are given more significance than one’s ability to introduce and implement affirmative policies.

The foundation year for NOTA in the University of Delhi (DU) saw more than 16,000 votes being cast in its favour. This year, the number skyrocketed to a total of more than 29,000 votes. Even though NOTA is heavily symbolic, the fact that it is gaining traction within the university means that the students are getting tired of the aggressive and “rowdy” behaviour of the supporters of DUSU candidates. The students have finally been given a platform to express their dissent through the same. Across the university, students have often complained about their classes getting disrupted during campaigning, bribes in terms of free movies, trips and meals being offered to students living in Paying-Guest accommodations and so on. Political parties, allegedly, go as far as to distribute alcohol and chocolates to students one day before the elections. Many female students have come up and voiced their opinion about feeling unsafe in the campus during the time of elections, despite the tag of ‘women empowerment’ being included in every party’s manifesto. Repeated promises, no implementation and the ongoing tiff between the two leading parties (ABVP and NSUI) often create chaos in the university. It has affected the peaceful functioning of the University, and these thoughts of the students are very well resonated with the rise in the popularity of NOTA. Despite its shortcomings, NOTA, in theory, is imperative in terms of facilitating and allowing an expression of dissent; however, it still requires severe changes in its actual implementation.


Feature Image Credits: Anagha Rakta for DU Beat

Bhavya Banerjee
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With the election season finally having come to an end, here is a look at some of the key highlights from the DUSU elections of 2017.

The elections for this year’s Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) came to an end on the 13th of September, with the declaration of results. As this year was as eventful as the election season gets, here are some key highlights from this season’s elections:

  • 21 AUGUST- University of Delhi notifies the dates for the election of the office bearers of the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) and members of the Central Council, the most awaited students’ election in the country. The election is to be held on 12 September, 2017, for the 2017-18 academic session.
  • 23 AUGUST- The Students’ Federation of India (SFI) organises an event in the Arts Faculty, North Campus, on 23rd August. It comprises a protest march from the Arts Faculty towards Ramjas College, Kirori Mal College, and back. The protest is for the scarcity of hostels and instillation of sanitary pad facilities for women.
  • 24 AUGUST- The National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), organises a press briefing where it proposes a set of electoral reforms for the upcoming elections scheduled on 12th of September.
  • 1 SEPTEMBER- A referendum titled “Should Aryabhatta College be affiliated to Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU)?” is held. The students of Aryabhatta College vote in favour of the motion.
  • 4 SEPTEMBER- The University of Delhi, in a press release confirms this date as the last day for receipt of nomination papers and security and publication of the duly nominated candidates, for both DUSU and the Central Council.
  • 6 SEPTEMBER- The National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the Indian National Congress (INC), gets a shock when it discovers that its presidential candidate for DUSU elections, Rocky Tuseed, is missing from the final list of candidates released by the Chief Election Office (CEO).
  • 8 SEPTEMBER Court has allowed Rocky Tuseed to fight elections and he will be representing  with the potential to win the election this year.
  • 12 SEPTEMBER- The polls for the DUSU elections are held for the morning and evening college respectively.
  • 13 SEPTEMBER- The results of the elections are declared. Rocky Tuseed of NSUI wins the post for DUSU President with 16,299 votes. Kunal Sehrawat of NSUI became the Vice President with 16,431 votes. Mahamedha Nagar of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) wins the post for Secretary with 17,156 votes. Uma Shankar of ABVP becomes the Joint Secretary after bagging 16,691 votes.


Feature Image Credits: University of Delhi

Sandeep Samal
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Karan Singhania
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