Saturday, September 4, 2010

Elections Down the Ages...

My first brush with Student level elections was at the Doon School where we would elect members to the House Council and School Council every year among Form mates. I had the chance to serve in the House Council for all the 5 years in Tata House though the election was always unanimous. In 2005, Dr. Kanti Bajpai began the tradition of electing School Captains every year. The authorities would declare two candidates after which the students would vote and elect the school captain. I donot remember if they had time to speak but campaigning was surely not allowed. I remember voting for Sahil Batta then. In 2006, when we entered SC form [Class XII] there was a three way election during which I voted for Amritesh Rai but it was Avyay Jhunjhunwala who won and was a fine leader. At St. Stephen's College the elections were different and were Presidential style elections. In my First Year, 2007-08 I voted for Boban Varghese Paul and he won handsomely. The next two years didnt give me the same result though Adnan Asmi was the best President in my three years at College; Naveen Venna the being the worst. Coming to Campus Law Centre, the politics took a different turn and after seeing the DUSU and CLC elections, it struck me how different the politics of Doon School, St. Stephen's College and Delhi University was. Each had their own merits and demerits.
To begin with, the Doon School was hardly 'political'; there was no organized politics and the School Captain elections were fought hard and at the end of the day taken well. All the three nominees of my batch have done very well for themselves inside and outside school. The best suited candidate may not always have won [Shikhar Singh lost in 2007] but the process was good and worth continuing.
St. Stephen's College was very different. Here, elections introduced me to the politics of regionalism and also introduced me to street-level politics. College has always been dominated by Malayali community without whom it was tough to win the elections. I saw this most in 2008 and 2009 because the First Year vote was a landslide. But, College elections were relatively clean and ideological at the end of the day. The 'Open Court' was a great feature of the College elections. More than politics, it was ideology and issues which were also considered. Ofcourse, I donot talk of the Malayalis, who have plenty of ideology but failed to look at issues in College because if they did the results of 2008 and 2009 would have been different. Nevertheless, the elections were always fun filled affairs and I enjoyed watching them closely.
Campus Law Centre was an eye opener in many ways. It was my first brush with DUSU politics as our College was not a part of DUSU. The politics here is regional too but the stakeholders are different. Delhi University has long become a bastion of Jats and Gujjars, who hold the key to power here. Surprisingly, it is much easier to work with them as compared to our Mallu friends. Yet, the politics here is also very rough and tumble. When the DUSU elections took place, the security level really surprised me. Law Faculty was converted into a virtual fortress and entry severely restricted. The place was full of posters and there were small clashes too. Unlike College, there was no manifesto published and a culture of debate is also absent. But, this tradition mirrors the Indian polity much better then any other. It is also said that Lyngdoh Committee has improved the state of University politics. Yet, lots needs to be done here too even though I enjoyed the elections here despite not being able to vote.
It is very important there is constant student participation on politics and University is the best place to do so. At the same time, regional politics needs to end as soon as possible for which all the mainstream parties must take initiative. It was also shocking to see few women voters coming out to vote and this needs urgent change. The NSUI tradition of reserving seats is a good idea to integrate and other parties must also follow suit. ABVP is a cadre based body which solely rewards hard work and this really impresses me. Asa for SFI and AISA, it is great they are miles away from DUSU...I cant imagine what will happen in a SFI-AISA controlled DUSU. But, this seems very unlikely as I await the election results 2010 which are expected later this morning...


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