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Student elections are supposed to be aimed at ensuring a democratic process of selecting those in power. They’re supposed to ensure that those who have the approval of a majority of students are the ones who represent student interests at a higher level. Maybe in the past, it worked, but today, student elections are nothing more than a farce.

To briefly summarise the 2021 elections, firstly, we had the GSAA (PG) resigning from the election commission in a flamboyant manner, going as far as sending out an email on student notices to declare malpractice by the Election Commission, even mentioning the name of a certain candidate. He thereafter clarified that he had no intention of publicly supporting any candidate, but was simply pointing out a flaw. This resignation claimed some form of bias on the part of the EC, going so far as to call it undemocratic, because of a delay in the release of the manifesto of a candidate, for reasons which have not been made public to date. 

Following this, it seems that the resignation was rejected, which went unexplained again, and the same GSec continued to serve on the EC, his supposed outrage at the ‘unparliamentary’ working of the EC now seemingly calmed*. While this in and of itself questions the working of the EC and the manner in which the elections were being conducted, it doesn’t stop there.

The night before elections were to be held, we had a GSHA candidate drop out from the elections, alleging ‘toxic ploys’ by the election commission and that they were ‘unabashedly biased’ towards certain candidates. He then went on to endorse another candidate before declaring his resignation, making it public even before it was accepted by the EC; in fact, it had been rejected earlier. This public declaration forced the EC to accept his resignation against its better judgement. 

As if this were not enough, the Dean SA sent out another email on student notices, a few hours after voting commenced, stating that the GSHA candidate who resigned did so at the behest of a committee of professors because he violated CoVID guidelines and misrepresented his identity to enter the institute. Circumstances were also poised interestingly, with 2 of the 3 candidates already on campus, which could provide a very natural advantage, even with offline campaigning not allowed, especially in the domain of hostel affairs. Given the quantum of wasted effort in case he withdrew, the candidate was clearly forced to withdraw and it seems the candidate made the public declaration in a last-ditch attempt to regain some honour by blaming the EC for everything.

With all this as context, the election commission this time around has clearly done a poor job of upholding the sanctity of the elections, and the Oversight Committee was significantly involved in the process, whereas it was meant to serve only an advisory role. One can’t help but question the sanctity of the General Elections 2021 and the Election Commission of the same for being unable to control a few radical students from willfully misusing their influence or even conduct elections in a transparent manner. 

And even though the winners of the General Secretary elections were revealed in a day, it took almost two weeks after the election was conducted for the official results for Institute Secretary elections, as well as for the vote count for General Secretary elections to be declared. The cause of the delay was not made apparent, adding to the lack of transparency in the manner in which the EC works.

With all this in mind, the Election Commission did a good job of conducting the elections themselves. They had contingency plans ready in case people faced issues while casting their votes and even moderated the campaigning fairly well, in spite of the online mode of things. And with the Oversight Committee seemingly interfering much more than needed, the aforementioned issues cannot be entirely blamed on the EC.

All things considered, this year’s elections serve as a reminder that our election process is far from perfect. Stay tuned.

*The General Secretaries we contacted were not willing to go on record about the issue.