IIT alumnus Kejriwal inspires poll campaign on Powai campus

MUMBAI (TIP): After the landmark New Delhi assembly polls, it is the turn of young ‘netas’ at IIT-Bombay to do an Arvind Kejriwal in terms of promises.

A team of students from the institute had helped AAP understand trends on social media so that the party could finalize its manifesto for the national capital. Now, students contesting for elections to 10 posts at IIT-Powai seem inspired by the manifesto that worked wonders in the national capital.

So, much in the style of AAP and its leader who is himself an IIT alumnus, they have made a range of promises, from the directly borrowed one of Wi-Fi connectivity to the trivial (a pizza outlet on campus), the necessary (a 24-eatery on campus) and the more serious promises of reducing students’ academic load for the first year and an increase in health insurance cover.

None of the candidates is part of the team that recently assisted AAP, but the Kejriwal effect is evident.

There are 18 candidates in all fighting the polls which are held annually. Five of the 10 posts on offer are for general secretaries — hostel affairs, academic affairs, sports and cultural affairs etc -and among the remaining five are those for the Mood Indigo and Techfest coordinators.Sarthak Agrawal, contesting for the post of general secretary, hostel affairs, has promised a dabba service from the mess to academic area at nominal charges during lunch and dinner hours. He and his opponent, Srikant Bukya, have both promised Wi-Fi connectivity across the campus, though they have worded their promises differently.

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Some candidates have promised counselling and stress relief workshops, others have said they will set up CCTV cameras in public areas, and still others have vowed to arrange for a/c study rooms, fire mock drills and hotline numbers to report emergencies during IIT festivals. To ease academic strain, a few candidates have promised a week-long Diwali break, and those appealing to students’ well-being have spoken of the digitisation of student records in the hospital on campus.

Some incumbents hoping to retain their posts have assured their fellow students of follow-up action on setting up washrooms for the opposite sex in the hostels (a women’s washroom in the men’s hostel and vice versa). One candidate has even promised a system where cashless surgical and medical treatments will be possible for students across India.A student said none of the candidates has ever managed to fulfill 100% of his/her promises. ‘On an average, a good candidate fulfils around 50-60% of promises made during his/her tenure,” the student said. “The students media body acts as a watchdog and conducts debates before the elections where candidates are grilled over their ‘over-ambitious’ projects. Some fail to convince the students during these debates. After candidates are elected, every term-end their progress is reviewed comparing their performance with what they had promised in their manifestos,” the student added.Each of the candidates has prepared around two pages of manifestos. The candidates also get 10 days to go door-to-door campaigning across the 16 hostels, so that they can explain and convince the voters about their vision. Over 3,000 of the 3,600 undergraduate students are expected to vote on Monday. “The turnout is lower among post-graduate candidates with around 50% of the total 4,000 participating in the institute’s polls,” said a student.

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