By Tushar Singh
National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the Indian National Congress, won President and Vice President in the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) elections, while Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) managed to win the Secretary and Joint Secretary posts.
The winners and the losers
ABVP’s vote share for the President’s post dipped significantly from 34.5% last year to 26.8% this year. Riding on the anti-ABVP sentiment, NSUI’s vote share for the post of president increased from 24.7% in 2016 to 29.8% this year. While NSUI won the President’s post comfortably, its winning margin for the post of Vice President was just 175 votes. On the other hand, the group missed the chance of inflicting a bigger defeat on ABVP, losing the Joint Secretary’s post by a meagre 342 votes. NSUI claimed that ABVP had meddled with the counting process of the Joint Secretary post, and registered a complaint with the grievance cell of Delhi University. Avinash Yadav, NSUI’s Joint Secretary candidate, lost the seat to ABVP’s Uma Shankar.
Rocky Tuseed will be the new President of DUSU. Tuseed’s victory is significant as, on the day of issuing the final list of candidate, the DU election committee had cancelled his nomination. He then approached the Delhi High Court and got his candidature reinstated just two days before the campaign. Kunal Sehrawat of NSUI won the post of Vice President, while Mahamedhaa Nagar and Uma Shankar of ABVP won the posts of Secretary and Joint Secretary, respectively. Over 54,000 votes were polled for each of these posts. The far-left All India Students’ Association (AISA), which has been gaining grounds in DU in the last three-four years, lost in terms of vote share (from 11.8% in 2016 to 8.9% in 2017 for the post of president).
‘NOTA’ over everybody else
The elections also saw a high percentage of ‘None Of The Above’ votes, with 16.5% of voters pressing the NOTA button for the Joint Secretary’s post. The biggest increase in the NOTA vote share has been for the post of Vice President—last year, it was 8.8%; this year, the number was as high as 14.1%. As many as 7,684 voters exercised the option for this post.
A shift in ideology or sheer chance?
It is the first time since 2012 that NSUI has bagged more than one DUSU post. According to the Congress, it indicates a shift away from the right-winged ideology of ABVP in DU, referring it to as “Saffron Safaya”. NSUI saw the results as a wider vote against the BJP. “This is the beginning of the ‘saffron safaya’ starting from the DU campus. The students saw through the way PM Modi campaigned for ABVP through his televised address to the youth. And this is not only a mandate against ABVP’s violence on campus-starting with Ramjas college to Faculty of Law, Hyderabad Central University to Jawaharlal Nehru University- but also a vote against the central government’s work in last three years”, claimed Amrish Ranjan Pandey, national spokesperson, Indian Youth Congress.
ABVP, however, claimed that the margin of victory for NSUI was very close, which clearly does not indicate any shift in the ideology. “Of course, it is a disappointment to lose two seats. But we have maintained our support base in DU and our votes haven’t been reduced. We look forward to working together on student issues with NSUI in DUSU as they have come on an equal platform. We lost the two other two posts narrowly”, said Saket Bahuguna, national media convener, ABVP.
Currently, no one is sure whether the DUSU vote is the first indication of a change in people’s opinion about the BJP. Given the low turnout of 42% and the increase in the vote share of NOTA, this election definitely indicates how disillusioned the students are with all the candidates. DU elections are the voice of the youth, and the youth certainly wants a change from status quo. Can NSUI bring this change, and can the Congress replicate NSUI’s victory on the national level? Only time can tell.
Featured Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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