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Congress wins Delhi University race all over again

Staff Reporter

But the BJP-backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad robs the NSUI winners of a clean sweep

THE WINNERS: The newly elected Delhi University Students' Union president Amrita Dhawan, secretary Shashi Kant and joint secretary Tarun Tanwar with Congress president Sonia Gandhi at her residence in the Capital on Saturday. - PHOTO: SHANKER C HAKRAVARTY

NEW DELHI: The Congress-led National Students' Union of India (NSUI) won the Delhi University Students' Union elections once more on Saturday bagging three of the four seats at stake, including that of president. However, it lost the race for vice-president to the BJP-backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) by a wafer-thin margin of 35 votes, thus missing a clean sweep of the polls that it had accomplished last year.

The NSUI retains the presidential post for the fourth year in a row with its candidate Amrita Dhawan cruising to victory by a comfortable margin of 4,722 votes. She secured 13,161 votes to beat her closest competitor, Gargi Lakhanpal of the ABVP, who polled only 8,439.

First time entrants in the race -- the "clean'' independent group United Students, determined to offer students "an alternative to muscle and money power" -- also made their mark in the presidential race. Aditya Dar of United Students polled 4,300 votes. While it may be a long way from the big prize, the group is showing signs of fast becoming a formidable player on the Delhi University campus.

"It's a great achievement. Even if we didn't win, we worked on the issues we promised in our manifesto, like women's security. We will be campaigning in the weeks and months ahead to mobilise people to work with us,'' said United Students spokesperson Aditya Kaul.

The race for the DUSU vice-president's post turned out to be a tussle between Abhimanyu Singh of the NSUI and Vikas of the ABVP. Pulling through by just 35 votes,

Vikas -- a Delhi University boxer and the ABVP's strongest candidate -- clinched the first victory for the student outfit after a year. He polled 9,018 votes compared to Abhimanyu's 8,983.

Apart from Vikas, the closest the ABVP came to providing some competition to the NSUI was in the race for the seat of secretary.

In an almost evenly matched competition, Shashi Kant of the NSUI defeated his nearest rival Jitendra of the ABVP to win by 859 votes. Shashi Kant polled 8,891 votes.

Also on the winning side was Tarun Tanwar of the NSUI who polled 9,844 votes to comfortably defeat the ABVP's Surendra, who secured 7,196.

With their majority in the DUSU secure for another year, the NSUI had plenty of reasons to celebrate as the election results were announced in the afternoon.

The winning team capped the celebrations by calling on Congress president Sonia Gandhi soon after her return from troubled Malegaon.

The first hi-tech election of its kind, this DUSU contest was a relatively paper-free affair thanks to the use of electronic voting machines for the first time. And apart from its record voter turnout of between 55 per cent and 60 per cent, another positive aspect of this year's election was that it was also "cheaper''.

"Every college used to spend Rs. 50,000 every year on printing ballot papers. They have saved all that money this time. If we calculate, that is a saving of Rs. 25 lakhs.The University also used to spend Rs. 7 lakhs on printing the ballot papers, which too we have saved. These electronic voting machines can be used for another 15 years,'' said the Chief Election Officer, Gurmeet Singh.

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