An Independent candidate backed by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Manoj Choudhary, was elected the Delhi University Students’ Union president on Saturday.
Mr. Choudhary, who according to some was a “rebel ABVP” candidate, defeated his nearest rival Bajinder Singh from the All-India Students’ Federation by only 11 votes, having polled 5,391 votes. Both are from the Department of Buddhist Studies.
The last time an Independent candidate won the president’s post was in 1991.
The lone candidate from the ABVP in the DUSU central panel Kriti Wadhera won the vice-president’s post after securing 6,543 votes.
The only candidate from the National Students’ Union of India Arshdeep Kaur, a student of Campus Law Centre, was a clear winner for the secretary’s post with 8,032 votes in her favour.
Samajwadi Chatra Sabha, the students’ outfit of the Samajwadi Party, opened its account in the DUSU central panel by wresting the post of joint secretary. Its candidate Anupriya Tyagi from Hans Raj College secured the maximum number of votes among all the DUSU candidates this year – 9,007.
However, the result of Manoj, Kriti and Arshdeep is provisional subject to the outcome of the ongoing inquiry against them. They had been served show cause notices last week for using printed material in their campaign.
Earlier, the Chief Election Officer Gurmeet Singh had said: “If the committee finds them guilty, they can be disqualified even after the polls, and the post that he/she is elected for will remain vacant in the DUSU.”
The decision on how and when to continue the inquiry would be taken next week.
Interestingly, once the results were declared, the ABVP activists gathered outside the counting centre at Kingsway Camp began celebrating since as per them the Parishad had “swept the DUSU polls 3-1.”
“We were supporting Manoj Choudhary for the president’s post, Pradeep Kumar Sharma for secretary and Anupriya Tyagi for joint secretary. Of these, Manoj and Anupriya have won along with our official candidate Kriti. So that makes a 3-1 in our favour,” claimed Vikas Dahiya, a senior activist of the ABVP.
“Manoj may have fought as an Independent, but he is still a member of the ABVP State executive. He has not resigned as yet. Manoj was always our back-up option. However, since the election office seemed to be targeting only the NSUI and ABVP candidates (for disqualification), we decided not to make it very obvious that we were supporting him,” claimed Vikas.
Other ABVP activists said they supported candidates from other outfits like Samajwadi Chatra Sabha because of the “unusual circumstances.”
“Our official candidate is only Kriti. But we decided to put all our strength behind other candidates to keep Left-leaning students’ outfits out of the DU campus,” asserted Ashutosh Shrivastav, another ABVP activist.
Post-results, it was quite a sight to see how the new DUSU president Manoj Choudhary was being projected as a winner from the ABVP by its activists.
Manoj himself, however, chose to be cautious.
“The credit for my victory goes to my parents, friends and the ABVP family. I will deliver on my promises made to the students. It is a victory of the students.”
When asked if he still considered himself an ABVP member, he merely said: “I have been working with the ABVP organisation in the past and I will continue to work with them.”
Anupriya Tyagi, the new DUSU joint-secretary, openly thanked the ABVP for its support. “Since the ABVP did not have its own candidate, it supported me, though Samajwadi Chatra Sabha gave me this platform. I will highlight the issue of the safety of girls on the campus.”
The NSUI activists left soon after the results were announced maintaining that their celebrations were subdued because of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S.R Reddy’s demise.
“We had decided not to burst any crackers. The customary meeting with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi also did not happen because we wanted to keep it very low-profile,” said NSUI national general secretary Anand Pandey.
NSUI winner Arshdeep said it was important for all the four office-bearers to work together, irrespective of their political affiliations, in order to make the DUSU vibrant.
In all, 29 candidates were in the fray for the four posts in the central panel. In the run-up to the elections, seven candidates were rejected for flouting the Supreme Court judgement on students’ union elections due to which the NSUI and the ABVP lost three contestants each from their central panels.