So the first time ever I published something was in 2003, in The Fourth Estate, IIT Madras’s campus magazine. It was a rather scandalous piece. So scandalous that I declined to put my real name as the byline instead preferring to be called “The Wimp”.
I was rummaging through my computer and actually managed to find a soft copy of that issue of The Fourth Estate. I have no clue where I had downloaded it. In any case if any of you is interested, do let me know and I’ll send over the PDF to you. Anyway, here goes the piece. Copypasting from PDF, so might be some formatting issues. I’ve quoted the whole thing verbatim
The Wimp Observes
Institute Elections 2003
After last year’s farce at the hustings when many candidates were elected uncontested, junta suddenly seemed to become more power hungry this year with a contest for almost all posts, be it at the instilevel or at the hostel level in various hostels.
The elections for the post of Cultural Secretary (Cul-Sec) saw a massive campaign this year. This is ironical considering that a month before the polls it seemed as if there would be no contest at all! In March 2001, this magazine ran a story which went like this (it is supposed to have happened a few years ago): A and B were up against X and Y in the cul-sec elections.Then, A was offered a position in the core group which prompted him to give up and X and Y were elected unanimously!
History was about to repeat itself this year (actually B was even promised the post of General Secretary (Gen-Sec) uncontested) but then saner sense prevailed – A and B threw their hat back into the ring. X and Y were so apprehensive about losing the elections (apparently X is worried as he was stripped of his security co-ordship last Saarang) that they began taking anybody and everybody who was planning to stand into the core. The man tipped to be the events core was one whose credentials did not amount to much more than lit-sec of his hostel. In fact last year, he was seen at only one lit-soc event, that too because he was co-ord for that event!! He was tipped to get events core in case X and Y win. As A put it, “lit guys are useless in the core da, they are too pseud to get you votes!”
But A and B’s decision to contest turned things topsy-turvy for X and Y who went on a recruiting spree trying to get some prominent people (let’s call them P, Q, R) to be in their core. But A and B too were gunning for these very people to be in theircore. This resulted in the unprecedented concept of “common core”. P, Q, and R promised not to involve themselves in the elections and they would get into the core irrespective of the result.
Another undesirable aspect of this year’s cul-sec elections was that most of the campaigning was negative with the candidates just slinging mud at each other – each candidate telling the people why not to vote for the other guy rather than telling why to vote for him. Also, this time’s elections threw up a new vote bank with most of the freshies in one hostel (Sarayu). These poor freshies had to endure two-and a- half hour campaign speeches from one of the incumbent cul-secs, they were shepherded into their common room by one candidate after another, people visited them every five minutes (I’m exaggerating) asking for votes. Most of them got pained with the elections and it was no surprise that their turnout was low. I think enough has been said about the cul-sec elections. Let us now turn to others. As far as the scenario for Academic Affairs Secretary (AAS) is concerned, the campaign was low-key. Two prominent members of last year’s Shaastra core group were against each other. Also up against them was a correspondent of this magazine who was oscillating between standing and not standing at a period of five minutes!
The election for Gen-Sec witnessed a fight between two people who are supposed to be good friends but could not work out a compromise formula. They are such good friends that initially their nominations were rejected as both their names had been proposed and seconded by the same people. Luckily for them, no one else was contesting or that person would have become Gen-Sec by default. Campaigns for posts for sports sec and hostel affairs sec were low-key. There were three candidates in the fray for sports sec and two for HAS.
Addendum (on and after the elections)
This year, excellent arrangements were made for the elections with the voting being extended over six hours (as against three last year), so there were no serpentine queues to be seen in front of CC this year. But there were supporters of various candidates flooding the roads leading to the CC and chanting the names of the candidates whom they were supporting. Finally the Chief Election Officer had to personally intervene and chase them away. All in all it was a peaceful poll.
In the elections for cul-sec, X and Y (refer to first part of article) defeated A and B by a narrow margin. But only one of P, Q, and R will be in their core since the other two have been swallowed up into the Shaastra core by the AAS, who in fact is himself a member of last year’s Shaastra core. He won the elections by a handsome margin. The other elections went as expected with relatively big margins of victory.
Finally, as they say, “All is fair in love, war and politics”.
Quotable quotes of Elections 2003
“Core group is a wonderful thing da. Everyone should be in it”
– Core group member Paddy on being asked how it felt to be in the core.
“I have all the officials of the insti in my backside”
– Gen Sec Akhilesh Pareek during his election campaign last year.
“I am not standing for cul-sec because till date no cul-sec has gotten through CAT”
– “A”, when he was still a part of X and Y’s core group and wasn’t sure of contesting.
“Who is this Meera?”
– A voter on being told by a candidate, “Vote for mee raaa…”
“Unlike facilities, events coordships will not be awarded based on hostel loyalties”
– A member of the incoming Saarang core group at the aspiring coords meet.
Needless to say I’m NOT proud of this effort. However, as they say, well begun is half done! And I can claim that I started my career on writing on elections back when I was in college itself! It was perhaps a good predictor that almost exactly ten years later I’d start writing Election Metrics