The office of Delhi University’s chief election officer was abuzz with activity on Thursday as candidates for the varsity’s student body elections made a last-minute dash on the last day for filing nomination papers for the polls, scheduled for September 22.
After a day of sloganeering, garlanding and flag waving, the nominations for the elections closed at 3pm. By the end of it, university officials said that 97 candidates had filed nominations, in a process that began earlier this month.
“Of the 97 nomination papers, two were rejected upon scrutiny. 27 presidential nominations, 24 vice-presidential nominations, 24 secretary nominations and 20 join-secretary nominations were approved,” said CEO professor Chandra Shekhar, whose office, opposite the botany department in DU’s North Campus, was covered with flyers, amid heavy barricades.
DU is holding student union elections for the first time since 2019, with a four-year break forced by pandemic-induced restrictions. Through a notification issued on August 22, the upper age limit for undergraduate candidates was increased from 22 years to 25 years and for postgraduate candidates from 25 years to 28 years.
Consequently, this will be the first time that students over the age of 25 will contest DUSU elections. However, like previous years, the university witnessed flagrant violations of campaigning norms, with students seen atop moving cars — and on the parapets of DU buildings — with posters in their hands, printed posters dotting the streets in North Campus, and nearly every inch of walls with the names of candidates spray-painted.
Regarding the poll violations on Thursday, Shekhar said, “Fortunately, no untoward incident took place today. Our committees were keeping a check on students to ensure that no poll violations take place.”
Deputy commissioner of police (north) Sagar Singh Kalsi said that no mishap took place on Thursday. He said, “From our end, we have briefed candidates from many parties in the presence of college authorities to maintain decorum. We have deployed our forces across the campus, day in and day out.”
Candidates can withdraw their names till 12 noon on Friday, following which the final list will be published later in the day. The elections are scheduled for September 22, but the date, time and venue for counting of votes is yet to be announced.
Ashutosh Singh, national media convener of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students’ wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), said the party will release their manifesto within a day or two.
National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) candidate Hitesh Gulia, a final-year LLB student at faculty of law, was one of the seven from the Congress’s student wing to file nomination papers on Thursday. He said if elected, he would work on transparency of admission process, students’ safety on campus, fee hikes and accommodation.
Meanwhile, the All India Students’ Association (AISA), in a statement, said, “This election is not an ordinary election. DU is witnessing an election after four years and an unprecedented politics of money and muscle is on show. Two batches of students have suffered the brunt of FYUP (four-year undergraduate programme) in the university. AISA has declared that this election should be made into a referendum on FYUP.”