With less than a month to go for student union elections in the Delhi University, the entire north campus — from walls to roads, from advertising spaces at bus shelters to market places — is covered with the names of candidates in the form of posters, pamphlets and scribbles, inviting students to “join them”. Though Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) elections will be held in September and the contesters have already started to spraypaint their names and put up posters across the campus so as to have their names read and known much before the three-day campaigning begins.
While the leaders of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the Congress, are using various methods for pre-campaigning, the left wing All India Students’ Association (AISA), like the previous years, maintained that it doesn’t indulge in “this kind of politics”.
AISA President Kawalpreet Kaur said: “These posters just carry their names without addressing any of the students issues. It’s just another way to make students learn their names.”
She lamented over “no action being taken against any of these people” for wasting so much of paper. “Year after year, they keep doing the same thing. We are going to complain and request the university to issue certain guidelines about it.”
With many masters’ students feeling indifferent to student politics in the campus, the freshers were certainly looking forward to cast their vote for the first time but they were disappointed with all the mess and untidiness around them.
“They are stupid to be thinking that we would vote for someone who is ruining the public property. Posters are still okay but painting the walls and other spaces is obnoxious,” a first year student from Kirorimal College, who didn’t want to be named, told sources.
She said people from the three parties, ABVP, NSUI and AISA, “have recently started coming to their classes to introduce and make themselves familiar.” “They disrupt our classes by approaching us in the middle of them.”
She said that knowing their names was not enough and that she would decide who to vote once the candidates declare their agendas in the week of campaigning.
Last year, the National Green Tribunal’s order directing the university to ensure that no paper is used for campaigning on campuses, had compelled student parties to take the war on social media but littering on the campus still continues.
Vibhuti Kapila, a second year student from Khalsa College, said that she pressed the NOTA (none of the above) button in 2016 elections as she was not impressed by any of the parties.
She also complained about DUSU’s “casteist and patriarchal logic, and display of money and muscle”. “I have seen them painting on the walls and polluting our campus. We wish to take the initiative to clean it.”
However, the ABVP and the NSUI said that they would ensure that the amount of paper used in campaigning is reduced this year.
“This is the traditional way of politics in DU. Candidates do it every year by themselves (without any involvement from the party). We will try going paperless this time so that that walls are not wrecked,” said NSUI National President Fairoz Khan.
ABVP spokesperson Saket Bahuguna stressed that the “short” three-day campaigning period is not sufficient to reach out to the students of 50 colleges who vote on one day and thus posters happen to be an effective medium.
“We are committed to the protection of our environment. We also believe that least amount of paper should be used during campaigning in all elections,” he said, adding: “In DU, there are 50 colleges voting on the same day and we get only three days for campaigning. It is a bit impractical to go paperless.”
“Posters and pamphlets are an effective medium of reaching out to the students. We will approach the university’s election committee to have designated walls and spaces across colleges and departments for campaign posters to avoid littering,” said Bahuguna.