Using cycles to go around campuses, recycled paper for posters and social media for outreach, student groups have opted for a green campaign for the DUSU poll, likely to be held in September after a hiatus of three years. The election to the student body was last held in 2019.
The Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) poll could not be held in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and its subsequent impact on the 2022 academic calendar.
“The academic calendar will be on track this year. So, we are planning to hold the election in September,” Delhi University (DU) Vice-Chancellor Yogesh Singh told PTI.
Though dates are yet to be announced, student groups have started outreach programmes, including tapping new entrants by helping them in the admission process as well as apprising them about their policies and poll promises on social media.
The Congress’ National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the Left-leaning Students’ Federation of India (SFI) are among the main contenders for the DUSU poll. The 2019 election was won by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-affiliated ABVP.
The DUSU election is held through direct voting by students of Delhi University (DU) and its member colleges.
It is usually conducted in August-September and held simultaneously with polls at the college level. Nearly 2,500 students contest the annual DUSU election for nearly 500 posts, and it has around a lakh voters.
Campaigning is picking up on university and college campuses, with members of the groups keeping students updated about their daily activities and reaching out to them on social media and personally.
DUSU president Akshit Dahiya said for new students virtual and physical multi-lingual helpdesks will be set up to guide them through the admission process. “We have done this during Covid and we will do it now as well,” he said and exuded confidence of the ABVP winning the poll.
“In 2019, we won by the greatest margin. We have adopted environmentally friendly methods to campaign. We will opt for recycled papers for posters. Instead of printed pamphlets, we would go for handmade pamphlets. We will use bicycles to campaign instead of four-wheelers. We will focus on class-to-class campaigning,” Dahiya said.
The ABVP had won the top three DUSU posts of president, vice president (Pradeep Tanwar) and joint secretary (Shinvangi Kharwal) in 2019, while the NSUI had bagged the secretary’s post (Ashish Lamba). Dahiya had defeated NSUI’s Chetna Tyagi for the president’s post by a margin of more than 19,000 votes.
The DUSU is the main representative body of students from most colleges and faculties. This apart, each college has its own students’ union, elections to which are held annually.
The SFI, which has carried out several demonstrations in the past year at the university to raise students’ issues, has begun campaigning.
“We have decided on our candidates and those candidates are already approaching students. I won’t say we have started a full-fledged campaign but we are raising students’ issues and helping students,” SFI secretary Mayank said.
“We would ensure minimal use of paper. We would focus on use of social media. We will also focus on class-to-class campaigning,” he said on the eco-friendly campaign plans of the SFI.
NSUI secretary Nitish Gaur said they have started a “soft campaign”. “Our prospective candidates have started meeting students. We have also launched a helpline number to help students in the admission process,” he said.
“We will ensure there is no wastage on paper. If any party or student group creates garbage, we will start a cleaning campaigning,” Gaur said.
Proctor Rajni Abbi said the election will be conducted peacefully adhering to the Lyngdoh Committee guidelines.
“Right now, our focus is on admissions but we are 100 per cent conducting the election this year. We would ensure it is conducted peacefully and the Lyngdoh Committee guidelines are followed,” Abbi told PTI.
Student groups had made several representations to university officials to demand the resumption of the election exercise as many elected representatives have left the university after completing their studies.
In recent years, besides the SFI, the Left leaning All India Students’ Association (AISA) has also emerged as a key player in DU politics. It has been at the forefront of movements to raise student-related issues.
AISA’s Delhi unit president Abhigyan told PTI that he hoped that the university would work on curtailing “undemocratic activities” during the poll process.
“I hope it would be a free and fair election, and the university will work on making it more democratic by curbing the excessive use of money,” he said and added that problems being faced by students due to the four-year undergraduate programme will be raised during the AISA’s poll campaign.
“Right now, we are focusing on raising issues of students. We haven’t decided on candidates but we are interacting with students and understanding their issues and raising them,” Abhigyan said. He said the organisation hoped to perform well in the elections.
Before 2014, the NSUI and the ABVP were the main groups but “we have been working with students and have led several movements (since then),” he added.