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First phase of Delhi University elections receives tepid response

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New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) A handful of posters hanging on a flimsy wire and policemen outnumbering the voters and students -- this was the scene outside Sri Venkateswara college in south campus as Delhi University (DU) went to polls Friday sans fervour.

The students elections received a lukewarm response from the voters this year. It defied the election office's expectation of a substantial turnout as the number of "freshers" had increased this year.        
However, the election officer was satisfied with the turnout and declared the polls a success.        
"I don't know the percentage of turnout yet but lots of students have come out to vote. The security arrangements are tight and everything is in place," Gurmeet Singh, Chief Election Officer of DU, told IANS.        
The south and north campuses were both heavily guarded and intensively patrolled by policemen. Some of the major roads were blocked to smoothly carry out the process.         
"The election process was absolutely peaceful. Keeping a strict tab on security, we sealed all the entry and exit points for vehicles near the polling stations. No one was allowed near the polling booths without a valid identity card," Gopi Nath, station house officer of Maurice Nagar, told IANS.        
Kriti Mehra, a 20-year-old voter at south campus said: "There were so many policemen around the campus, it appeared as if it was a parliamentary election. The entire stretch of road running parallel to south campus was blocked for traffic."        
The major parties contesting the polls are: Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), National Students' Union of India (NSUI), All India Students Association (AISA) and Students Federation of India (SFI).        
The candidates of the two major students' organisation are: Harish Choudhary of NSUI and Jitender Chaudhary of ABVP for the president's post; Vardhan Chaudhary (NSUI) and Priya Dabas (ABVP) for vice-president's post; Deepika Deshwal (NSUI) and Neetu Dabas (ABVP) for secretary's post; and Akshay Kumar (NSUI) and Saurabh Uniyal (ABVP) for joint secretary's post.        
The election office of DU had banned printed posters, stickers and banners on cars and walls this year. Only handmade posters were allowed to be put up and that too at selected locations.         
Furthermore, the candidates had been barred from campaigning in cars or using drums and other musical instruments.        
However, the election officer did receive complaints against some candidates.        
"We have received a few complaints today against some candidates contesting the polls. I will look into them as soon as possible," Gurmeet Singh said.        
The two major outfits, ABVP and NSUI, had a bitter argument in south campus over the issue of distribution of printed material. The former alleged that the latter had violated the election office's guidelines and demanded they be penalized.        
Furthermore, some of the candidates and their supporters were obviously not pleased with the state of affairs at both the campuses. They blamed the strictness and lack of campaigning for the low turnout.        
"First, the stringent guidelines by the election office, and now so many policemen stationed around the campus. All these things discourage effective campaigning and participation," said a supporter of one of the candidates who did not wish to be named.        
"All these measure have taken the fun out of elections," he added exasperatedly.        
Established in 1922, Delhi University is a premier varsity of India. It has 14 faculties, 86 academic departments and 79 colleges with over 200,000 students from within and outside the country.        

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