Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A night of reckoning!

The rather tepid polling day on Monday, September 7th, 2009 that saw the largest amount of policing in the history of the university, went off without any major disturbance. It was, however, a short-lived wave of peace as the campus witnessed repeated histrionics, protests and outbursts on the night of counting which took place on the September 8th.

As per schedule, the Election Commission (EC) was supposed to begin counting at 10 am in the morning. However, it wasn’t until 4:00 pm in the evening, that the process began and ran into controversy shortly afterwards. Within three hours, the first rumor started coming in of extra ballot papers being found in some boxes. The initial figure which started at a non-remarkable 18 soon jumped to an alarming 386 by the end of the night.

Former Union President and SFI member, Nelson Mandela quickly refuted the rumors saying that the information was exaggerated. “Last year also there was, and every year there is some amount of human error of 20- 30 ballots.”

Vincent K, a member of ASA said, “We had some suspicions about the functioning of the EC. So we asked them today to count the ballot from each polling station separately. Usually all boxes are dumped together. If that was the case, then this (the alleged discrepancy) would not have been found out.”

“We caught one of the EC members giving ballot papers to one SFI member. The whole thing has been done with the knowledge of the EC and the DSW”, an ABVP member said.

It was a night of sleepless vigil for politically aware students as they gathered around the Students’ Centre for updates on the results. Tightly knit groups of mostly male students with various party allegiances moved around in restless uncertainty. By around 9:00 pm, the situation changed completely with ABVP and the NSUI-DSU-ASA alliance starting to protest at the alleged discrepancies in the ballot count. The SFI students began a counter protest demanding for counting. Things took a serious turn close to midnight with a heated clash between various student organizations culminating in physical assault. At this point, the police intervened and dispersed the group.

Meanwhile, the Dean of Students’ Welfare (DSW) was in negotiation with the EC inside and it wasn’t till post midnight that an announcement was made that the counting was to be suspended temporarily in view of the controversy. The EC refused to do the counting if it were to be delayed indefinitely.

Every year, a procedural error of 10-20 ballots is common in the polls. This year, because of oversights on the part of the EC, the ballot counts from two polling stations, were not tallied. In the School of Life Sciences, error crept in due to the misplacement of two polling sheets. The sheets were later found and were allegedly ratified. In the Special Centre for Integrated Studies, the issue was that the mismatch in the initial count was not reported till later. But that was also tallied later.

If one went by the figures which were published by NSUI , it failed to account for the votes cast by the EC members and reported 386 extra ballots. A later pamphlet brought out by the NSUI- DSU- ASA while adding the EC votes, still arrived at the figure of 386. As of now, the official figures for error are yet to be confirmed.


  1. One of the significant mistake in the election process was handing over responsibilities of conducting elections to inefficient/immature candidates by SFI, which was present in the DST auditorium, on August 20, when GBM took place.

    As a result it is facing all the problems and plunged the campus into crises.

    This interpretation is in addition to other notable comments made against the Election Commission and SFI.