Delhi University’s North Campus resembled a curfew zone on election day on Friday, with heavy police presence ensuring that peace and utter dullness prevailed -- with no slogans, no chanting and no colour. Despite the restrictions, the voter turn-out was put at 40 per cent at the end of the day.
Gone were the drumbeats and sloganeering that marked the Delhi University Students’ Union polls every year. A few students loitered around chanting the names of their candidates, but were routinely chased away by the constables whenever some inspector visited the Campus Law Centre, the highest vote zone in the university.
The area is usually “marked out” by the frontrunners of the elections – the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and the National Students’ Union of India. This year, however, even they could not do anything beyond furtively chanting the names of their candidates to potential voters when the cops weren’t looking.
However, even this was being covertly video-taped by the Proctor’s men in plainclothes. “Offenders” were routinely loaded into police jeeps and were let off a “safe” distance away. Several known faces belonging to different student organisations were checked and were detained if any “campaigning” material was found on their person.
Chief Election Officer C. S. Dubey smilingly gave a dozen television interviews and claimed that this year’s voter-turnout was much better that last years as students felt safe to come and vote because of the “extensive security arrangements”. However, when asked the reasons for the enormous restrictions, he replied: “We are keeping outsiders out, that’s all.”
“It always rains on election day in Delhi University’s North Campus and that is why students don’t vote” – this one excuse used as often as possible in the past to explain the low voter turn-outs, could not be used this year as even the rain was missing. South Campus witnessed equally poor election figures.
The morning voting session from 8-30 a.m. to 12-30 p.m. ended on a dismal note with only 15 to 20 per cent voter turn-out being recorded half-an-hour before the morning polls closed.
The evening session, however, fared much better and the total voter turn-out reached almost 40 per cent. Last year, 32 per cent of the students came to vote despite the pouring rain.