AUEC Announces SG Elections, Candidates Yet To Announce Campaigns
By Jyotsna Sidharth, UG'25
The resurrection of a politically active campus? The Ashoka University Election Commission officially announced the commencement of this year’s election cycle on 19th April 2023. Here’s a status update on Ashokan politics and the upcoming election from the SG Newsdesk by Jyotsna Sidharth (UG25).
On 19th April 2023, the Ashoka University Election Commission (AUEC) officially announced the commencement of the Student Government (SG) elections through an email sent to the student body with the subject line, ‘IMP: ANNOUNCING STUDENT GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS (finally!!!)’. Voting is currently scheduled to take place on 28th April.
The email included a timeline of the electoral process, a guide to understanding Ashokan student politics and elections, nomination forms and some important pointers for the student body to keep in mind.
As per the announcement, candidate registration is, as of 19th April 2023, officially open to the students of the UG, Masters and PhD cohorts, who can nominate themselves for the Presidential Elections or elections to their respective Councils. Since the academic calendar of the Young India Fellowship (YIF) cohort is different from the other cohorts, they will not be part of this election cycle. Elections for the YIF cohort are expected a month into the next YIF cohort’s academic year.
AUEC emphasised that though the campaigning period has kicked off, the Constitution and Electoral Code are still under ratification by the University. Harsh Gupta (UG23) from Leher, first expressed concerns over this delay, attributing it to administrative bureaucracy in his email to the student body on 10th April. ‘Despite the student referendum having succeeded in November, the Constitution is still being passed among admin bodies and we have been left waiting on the Board of Management’s feedback which has been overdue for over 2 weeks now,’ wrote Harsh. ‘The insufferably slow, red-tapism-filled approach that the administration has taken with this entire process clearly reflects how they do not value or prioritize student representation.’
The campaign period, from 19th April to 26th April 2023, will see candidates, either affiliated with a party or running independently, release their manifestos and hold open meetings to discuss them. The AUEC will hold presidential and candidate debates during this period as well. The debates are likely to happen on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, awaiting administrative approval from the Office of Student Affairs.
As of 23rd April, the AUEC has extended the deadline to file nominations, owing to late requests from students for their No Objection Certificates (NOC), issued by the Registrar. Ishan Pratap Singh (UG24) voiced concerns regarding NOC delays in an email reply to the AUEC: ‘Since this email notifying elections by the EC was sent Thursday evening and the nominations close Sunday night, over a long weekend, there really is no time to get an NOC, since the offices are closed.’ Aditya Nair (UG24), responded in his capacity as Election Commissioner: ‘The Registrar has promised us that all requests for NOCs will be accommodated within 24 hours of the request. If the request comes during the weekend, the Registrar has told us that all NOCs will be sent by the latest 23rd April evening.’ Most requests have been fulfilled. Several, however, did not adhere to the 24-hour notice period, necessitating the extension.
Currently, Leher is the only active political party on campus. In early April, they announced Sankalp Dasmohapatra (UG24) and Tamanna Parikh (UG24) as their Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates respectively. In addition, they have released two reels on their Instagram page, introducing their 11 UG council candidates - Samarth Jain (UG24), Aditi Warrier (UG24), Ahana Walanju (UG25), Anshika Chaudhry (UG25), Debadrito Poddar (UG25), Romil Jain (UG25), Rishit Roy (UG25), Shashwat Agarwal (UG24), Aadi Menon (UG25), Dhruv Gandhi (UG25) and Hrishit Lath (UG25).
Leher also held an open meeting and panel discussion with the Ashoka University Queer Collective, the Feminist Collective and the Northeast Collective in the first week of April, to establish a dialogue with the collectives regarding what a safe and inclusive political space looks like to them. 50-60 people attended the meeting, many of whom pointed out that this effort, one of Leher’s first attempts at generating political conversation on campus, strategically coincided with the leadup to elections.
As of now, only Pratham Arora (UG23) has come forth publicly as an independent candidate. Pratham announced he was running for President back in mid-March. However, the AUEC expects upwards of 15 candidates, across and without affiliations, to stand for the UG Council, which is more than the number of seats available. The upcoming week promises the announcement of more campaigns and candidatures. The surge in political participation and conversation at Ashoka appears to be paying off.
The AUEC, in their email, expressed their hope to ‘revive the Student Government as an institution that gives a voice to the student body, to ensure that student opinion matters in the functioning of our University.’ They urged students to take an active interest in the elections and participate in whatever capacity they can, as a candidate or a voter.
All eyes are on this election, the first offline one since the COVID-19 pandemic and following the NOTA election result of last year. Signalling a takeover from a near-defunct interim Student Government, the stakes remain high.