Pizzas and movie tickets are out. Candidates this time are wooing their vote bank with mobile recharge coupons and amusement park trips
Time for elections, time for freebies. Students' union polls at Delhi University is serious business. Candidates know this all too well. So, while last year it was pizzas and movie tickets, this time students are being wooed with mobile phone recharge vouchers and tickets for amusement park trips.
On call: Students of Miranda House at Delhi University's north campus.
While doling out goodies offers no guarantees, with elections just a few days away (September 9) aspirants are taking no chances. So with mobile phones a necessity and limited money in their pockets, this has come as a boon for most students.
One for the camera: (L TO R) ABVP candidates for DUSU polls, Neha
Singh for president, Vikas Choudhary for vice-president, Vikas Yadav
for secretary and Deepak Bansal for joint secretary. Pic/Subhash Barolia
Best things in life...
"Contestants from the two main parties ABVP and NSUI have come to many of us and offered free mobile coupons with good amounts of talk time to gather more people in their support," said a hosteller at Kirorimal College (KMC).
While a little talk time goes a long way, contestants are not stopping at that. "Trips to amusement parks have become quite popular as well. Yet due to strict vigilance from election authorities, this is a bit risky. Candidates have come to us for offering free rides, hoping we would vote for them in return. But they are a bit secretive about this," said a student at the Faculty of Law, on the condition of anonymity.
However, denying any such claims, both the parties are playing blame game. When MID DAY contacted ABVP and NSUI leaders, they rejected all such allegations claiming they were being targeted by rivals. Bharat Kumar, secretary, NSUI said, "We have never indulged in such practices and we keep our campaign clean. For wooing students we don't need to make lucrative offers as our panel has a good hold and popular student support."
"However, because ABVP does not have a strong agenda and is just riding on a single issue of anti-corruption, its leaders are making offers to students. They are bribing them by with free rides at Adventure Island, at Metrowalk mall in Rohini," added Kumar.
On the other hand, refuting these claims, Rohit Chahal, state secretary, ABVP said, "Our agenda against corruption is so powerful that we just do not need to give out students any freebies. We have a large mass support as the anti-corruption movement initiated by us has succeeded. Since NSUI is in a tight spot due to Congress' problems, they are offering free rides to students at Fun 'n' Food Village, Gurgaon."
"Students are being offered great talk-time vouchers as well as free rides. What can be a better deal for us, if we can bank in on both sides and vote of our own accord; no one is coming to watch that," said Aviral Jain, a
student of Dayal Singh College.
Denying any breach of committee norms, Chief Election officer, DUSU elections, I Usha Rao, said, "We have not received any complaints from students. We have a team which is monitoring and video recording the entire event. In case we come across any such violations, candidates will be questioned accordingly."
BJP-backed ABVP had virtually swept the Delhi University Students' Union (DUSU) polls last year, winning the 3 seats of president, vice-president and secretary. An NSUI candidate was declared winner for the post of joint secretary. A dismal 35 per cent of the students of the varsity turned out to vote to elect their new union, following an election campaign that was watered down and without much fervour.
The Wall of Democracy is the space allocated to aspirants by DU authorities, to promote themselves through posters and stickers. This year candidates have to make do with hand-made posters only (limited to 4 posters per candidate of A4 size each). However, no one seems to be taking this clause too seriously as the wall remains coloured and crowded. Overall, campus walls have undergone a serious change this year; the look is more civilized.
On Monday evening, Tarun Kumar, MCD Councillor and Congress member organised a huge students' meeting to support the DUSU-NSUI Panel. In this meeting senior Congress leader Oscar Fernandes was invited as Chief Guest. A large number of students were present.
Know the rules
Lyngdoh Committee recommendations came to be implemented in 2007 for Delhi University Students Union Elections. It set the age limit for contesting at 25 years, election expenditure at just Rs.5000 and attendance more than 75%. Besides, printed posters were banned, processions were prohibited. In effect, efforts were made to ensure that only students could contest for Student Unions.