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Freshers party or a vote-seeking exercise?
Baishali Adak, Aug 27, 2013, DHNS: 21:03 IST
With Delhi University Students Union elections barely 20 days away, National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) - the youth wing of Congress - recently held a ‘freshers’ party’ at Thyagraj Stadium. Several popular artistes like Mohit Chauhan and Dilbagh Singh were brought in to perform ensuring not just a massive turnout at the venue, but traffic jams in the surrounding areas, lathi-charge by the police and even harassment of girl students.
But even if enthusiastic ‘freshers’ forgive NSUI for the mismanagement, other student political parties are mighty displeased with the event being held just before the elections. Student leaders say that such a programme violates all the guidelines of the JM Lyngdoh Committee regarding students’ body elections and is akin to bribing students for their votes. They are also upset at DU authorities refusing to take any action against NSUI in this regard.
Rohit Chahal, spokesperson, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad – the BJP students’ unit, says, “They think we are all fools to fall for their ‘freshers party’ argument? It was an all-out exercise in election campaigning with the whole Congress machinery, including student candidates and leaders like Mahima Chaudhry and Mohd Azharuddin, in attendance. They were openly asking for students’ votes in return for this programme.”
“Students were picked up during classes and brought by the bus-loads to the venue defying Lyngdoh rules which prohibit use of vehicles and disturbing classes during electioneering. Also, the whole arrangement must not have cost NSUI less than a crore which it can only borrow from its parent party. So what happens to Lyngdoh’s limit of Rs 5000 for canvassing and delinking student elections from national parties?”
All India Students’Association (AISA) – a left-leaning student party – recently held a referendum on the Four Year Undergraduate Programme for which it travelled to various colleges collecting votes for and against it. Surprisingly, the authorities deputed police personnel there to deter the AISA volunteers and students who came to vote.
Quite legitimately, AISA now sees discrimination in the way NSUI is being given a free-run. AISA State Secretary Sunny Kumar says, “We are appalled. The Election Code of Conduct came into effect at least three weeks back. Now, if any student party resorts to such activities, DU’s election committee must take suo moto action against them. Instead, notwithstanding repeated complaints, the authorities are acting as if nothing happened.”
“By the way, where was NSUI when this whole debate on the four-year programme was raging? Where was NSUI when the youth was out on the streets protesting the December 16 gangrape? Now, instead of picking up real youth issues, they are lifting students from classes and taking them to see Mohit Chauhan. This is so convenient.”
When Metrolife contacted the Chief Returning Officer of the elections, Professor Dr DS Rawat, his answer was far from satisfying. “It’s right that the Code of Conduct has come into effect and it is against such activities, but the election process is yet to begin. Even the nominations will be filed on September 4, a week from now. Till that time, we can’t make a case for breach of conduct.” It seems when you are covering up a wrong, just about anything qualifies as an excuse.