Anon Email: Leher accused of ethical misconduct, the bloc responds.
In the evening of 24th April, the student body received an anonymous email from “radioatashoka”, titled – “LEHER - Are they who they claim to be?”. It alleged Leher, the only bloc contesting the student government elections alongside independent candidates, of ethical misconduct.
The allegations came in the wake of the election cycle 2023. Elections are being held offline for the first time after having an incapacitated interim-SG since September 2021. Elections last year did not yield a functional student government after the highest number of students voted NOTA.
“radioatashoka” listed seven points of misconduct in the mail. A document was attached to elucidate their claims. Properties of the document revealed it was authored by Hazim Bin Fayaz, a UG24 student. The Edict reached out to Hazim for a comment.
“To answer your question, a number of people across batches have authored this report including me. Since the report was finally formatted on my laptop, it contains my name” said Hazim, over mail. He further added that other authors wished to remain anonymous.
On 25th April, the Election Commision of Ashoka University released a list of the candidates contesting in the elections 2023 cycle. Which listed Hazim Bin Fayaz as a presidential candidate.
Contents of the e-mail
“You thought you’d get away with this? We don’t think so [....] we have found blatant abuse of power, manipulation of the student body and misrepresentation of existing issues at your end” read the email directed towards Leher.
Misuse of SG-Forward. Email claimed that Leher has back-door access to the Student government email ID which is run by the President and the leader of the Opposition. The leader of the opposition is one of the founding members of Leher. According to the authors of the email, Leher “cut the queue and got their emails forwarded on a priority basis.”
Fast forwarding elections for personal gain. radioatashoka alleged Leher of pushing the elections “as there was not a substantial opposition in place to oppose them at the time.”
Overstepping Jurisdiction.Tamanna Parikh, the vice-presidential candidate from Leher, on 12th April, sent out an email to the student body titled “Elections This Month | Campaigning Season” disclosing their meeting with the assistant registrar where they learned a deadline by which the elections were to be held. Leher mentioned the date for elections 2023 and announced their campaign, stating: “We urge all other candidates to start their campaign” too. This information, they claimed, was solely the result of the meeting.
The author(s) of the radioatashoka email consider this an overstepping on part of a political bloc. The jurisdiction of officially announcing elections lies solely with the Election Commision.
This was also echoed by other independent candidates at the Presidential debate on 28th April. Navya Asopa UG24, running for President, remarked that the bloc found out about the elections before the rest by the “virtue of being a party.”
In the Weekly Political Updates sent out by The Edict via email on 13th April, the newspaper said that “these are unprecedented and unique times in Ashokan politics” and Leher’s announcing of the elections can best be described as “overstepping its role.”
Collusion with the EC. “The present Election Commission shares camaraderie with Leher’s running President” alleged the mail. They believe that the process of election was expedited by the EC based on the alleged relationship.
The Edict reached out to the EC for a comment on the accusation. “It is the role of the AUEC to ensure elections happen. Elections are currently expedited due to the lack of time remaining in the semester” read EC’s official response. Furthermore, they clarified the EC is only working on timelines given to them by the administration.
All talk and no-show. The email pointed out that while students have been facing various legitimate issues on campus, “it is not right to blow the issues out of proportion for the party’s own political mileage.” Leher was further questioned by the authors of the mail - “have they even tried to contact the administration regarding the ongoing issues and solve them?”
The political bloc in question sent out an email of their own to the student body. The email contained detailed points for clarification.
Misuse of SG-Forward. Leher denies collusion, and explained that the person who forwarded the mail was “doing their job.” They reiterated that the emails in question were forwarded in accordance to the SG email policy, at the same time with other unrelated emails.
Due to a backlog of emails, SG released an email on 5th April, 2022 elaborating on the forwarding policy. The policy states that all emails will be forwarded within 48 hours of receiving them.
Fast forwarding elections for personal gain. Explaining how the elections have severely deviated from the original timeline, Leher said that “we felt (and still feel) that it is paramount to have an offline election with minimal interference from the administration.”
Overstepping Jurisdiction. After their meeting with the assistant registrar, the bloc felt that it “was essential to publicize to ensure transparency of information.” This was done in the interest of ensuring equal footing for the upcoming candidates, clarified Leher.
Collusion with the EC. “We'd like to say that [...] at no point has their [EC’s] proximity to any members of Leher assisted in “expediting the election process” confirmed the bloc.
“The only members of Leher that have had involvement in this process are members of the CDC who have also made their involvement [...] public on multiple occasions” said Leher.
CDC is the Constitution Drafting Committee that was set up in April 2022. 10 members of the committee were to be chosen through the process of Election. Sattva, a now disbanded political party, got 7 out of 10 seats. 2 members were appointed by the interim house. One of the appointed members later joined Leher.
The constitution drafted by the CDC has been ratified by the administration. This was announced to the student body over email on 29th April.
All talk and no-show. Leher is firm that “we are in fact attempting to comprehensively address issues that we believe affect the student body and this university at large.” The bloc called the authors of the email and the student body at large to bring suggestions “if there are any genuine concerns that you believe we haven’t addressed.”
Leher took to twitter to drop reactions to radioatashoka’s email. Taking a jibe at their comment on “sharing camaraderie” with the members of EC, the bloc tweeted - “every member of our bloc would like to issue a formal apology for having friends.”
Sankalp Dasmohapatra and Tamanna Parikh of Leher have secured the highest votes to be elected as the President and Vice-President, respectively, of the Student Government of Ashoka University.*
*edited to add on 2nd May