Elections remain to be a fundamental core of any democracy; it won’t be unjustified to say that an election is the manifestation of democracy. The TSG Constitution came into being in 1952, and we have seen many elections since then. It is undeniable that representation of student opinions and interests in the administration is of utmost importance, and it works best when we have student representatives. This piece delves into how the elections take place on the campus. As the upcoming sophomores and even the 3rd years haven’t witnessed an election in the offline scenario, so we’re attempting to cover the details and nuances of the process for them.
The responsibilities of Vice-President, General Secretaries, and Secretaries are as follows:
The story starts with the ubiquitous appearance of a boarder in a particular hall. Consider a person ‘A’ boarding in hall ‘X’ and ‘Y’ being another hall. A is now seen everywhere, be it any contact list of the hall or participants’ / organizers’ list of any event. There’s more conversation going around him than usual while he is projected to be highly well accomplished and has made it to the good books of the majority of the borders. A is now also getting recognition in hall Y via similar processes. This serves as an analogy to the time-tested thing in Modern Democracy, i.e., the coalition being formed in Lok Sabha elections. But how does Hall Y reserves profit from all this? If ‘A’ stands for some post, say Vice President, then a student ‘B’ boarding in hall ‘Y’ stands for some other post, a General Secretary. And the similar branding activities line up for the student ‘B’ in both the halls. Now that is called a pact. Although it is not always necessary that there should be a candidate from some hall ‘Y’ to form a pact with ‘X.’ Profit could be promised in several undocumented ways.
It’s not at all unknown that during elections, halls make ‘pacts’ among themselves and agree upon not releasing candidates for the same post at once, and thus, both support the candidate from either hall. Many candidates had to withdraw because it disturbs the order created by pacts, and in some cases, the boarders from the candidate’s hall themselves have put pressure to do so.
There are laid down rules for the candidature for any post in the elections. Eligibility rules like spending one academic year in the institute is an imperative prerequisite to apply for the position of ‘Secretary (Secy)’, two years for a ‘General Secretary (G. Sec)’, and one can’t apply for the post of ‘Vice President’ and any other posts in the TSG election for the second time if they’ve already held the post of a ‘General Secretary’. However, this wasn’t always the case. More about this could be found in the article.
The eligibility criteria are supposed to remain invariant with time. But a lot of it is brewed in the air during the elections. Once the rules were found to experience a Coriolis deviation, including the CGPA requirements of 7.0 (previously 6.7) and another rule on ‘backlogs’ was tweaked, which both led to the invalidation of the candidature of aspiring candidates.
Students’ Welfare G.Sec
The post of Students’ Welfare G.Sec has shown a deviation from other G.Sec posts. Earlier, this post used to be nominated, but recently it has been introduced in the elections. Another significant difference is that the G.Sec Students’ Welfare can participate in the VP elections as a candidate, unlike other G.Secs. But it’s rumored that a candidate in the above situation was denied candidature.
Nomination Withdrawal Syndrome
Some curious cases of KGP’s Nomination Withdrawal have earned quite a reputation in recent days when a significant number of candidates dropped from the elections. The above has been fairly prevalent in the offline elections as well; many candidates have withdrawn their names because of reasons like hall politics. This issue has been tackled in greater detail in our recent article.
In a usual offline election setting, after the nomination is over, ‘Hall Days’ are convened and celebrated. The purpose is to strengthen the bonding amongst the boarders of the halls. This opportunity is utilized by the hall seniors and the nominated candidates to do promotional activities.
In the online mode, the publicity and promo work out largely by social media. Whatsapp groups are being spammed with SoPs and unfunny memes, or Facebook posts right on top of the feed with trendy #tags and multiple comments.
SoPs were put out sometime after the ‘Hall Days.’ Promotional activities offline ranged from putting up posters of the candidate anywhere and everywhere it chances being seen (be it taps or even the washroom!) to going room to room introducing themself as candidates.
After the candidates have campaigned for quite some time, a soapbox session is held as a formal way for a candidate to put forth their proposals and answer any questions and scrutiny on the same. Soapbox is one of the most crucial parts of the whole election process.
It is held 2-3 days before the voting day. Only the candidates contesting for the post of Vice-President and General Secretary make a presentation in the soapbox. They commence by introducing themself, in an age-old format and put forth their proposals.
Every candidate is groomed by their hall seniors months before the soapbox. There is a panel for scrutinizing the soapbox session, consisting of senior members from Hall councils and Placecomm. It’s seen that if the candidate is from one’s own hall, the panelist tends to go easy on them; otherwise, the questions tend to be grilling. Along with that, Awaaz gets to interview the candidates for around ten minutes (giving the same questions to all candidates) and put up the session recording on YouTube for future access and reference.
After days of campaigning, followed by being rigorously questioned in the soapbox sessions on various subjects pertaining to the student life at KGP, now comes the time for the momentous occasion – the day of Elections.
Contrary to the election campaigns which are marked by colossal uproar and clamor among the students, the election days are generally calm. Before the pandemic, elections were conducted in the KGP campus by setting up polling booths in the halls and some specified places. The entire student community was entitled to cast their votes.
Swaying the Opinions
Often, the influential members of the halls would be made to stand at the entrances of voting halls to sway voters’ feelings and influence them into voting for their preferred candidates. Along similar lines, many well-behaved juniors would also stand at the entrance to politely convince the seniors to vote for the candidate they were asked to campaign for.
Sometimes, when some halls saw their candidates losing, they would assemble the boarders and instruct them to contact their friends to mobilize support. Some pejorative posts about other candidates would be shared. Rumour has it that new pacts between the halls were formed at the eleventh hour, and some historic pacts were broken.
This is where the election saga comes to a close, the results are usually declared on the same day the votes are cast. Candidates and their supporters wait eagerly outside the Gymkhana. Treats are promised for friends and supporters. Although some aggression can be seen by the hall of a losing candidate, it all goes back to routine in no time.
As now the elections are ‘online,’ it’ll be different. The counting will be done in ERP after 8 PM on 5th August. Treats are being promised, but only time will tell the credibility of these promises. Quite possibly, GMeets and questionable promises of treats will make up the celebrations this time, as they have come to, for the entirety of the past few semesters.