Elections 1982: Memoirs of an Alumnus

Hi all at Insight team,

Reading up the times-are-changing in Insight reminded me about the election scenario during our time way back in 1982…29 years ago. I’ve attached a scanned copy of Ashvin Iyengar’s election manifesto from back then. Ashvin was more famous with his nick-Fish and is a central character in Madhouse. In 1982 and thereabouts, candidates typed out manifestos on a stencil on a type-writer and then took this stencil to some department and had it “cyclostyled” on a ream of foolscap sheets which cost Rs. 45 for 500 sheets. All of us chipped in with money to finance a candidate’s campaign. Rs. 45 was beyond the means of most candidates. These manifestos were then taken to each hostel and about 30-40 copies were distributed in each hostel and also pasted on notice-boards. They were also distributed during “soap-box” in each hostel where the candidates gave their election speeches at a pre-designated time and answered uncomfortable questions.

Fish won this contest by a record margin. He polled 1186 votes and defeated his opponent Harpreet Singh by 786 votes. Harpreet was a good speaker but Fish won primarily because his manifesto had good points. Ironically, Harpreet is now an Election Commissioner of the State of AP and an equally good friend of mine as Fish is. I am sure you all will be amused at the kind of issues we had during those days. Note this line from Fish’s manifesto:

Remember that he wrote this line AFTER the horse and the elephant were brought to the campus. Wonder if he had these also in mind as cattle. Or was it those who indulged in “bullshitting”? Some walked on the roads. Some taught in classrooms. 🙂

Bakul Desai,
Alumnus, Hostel 4
Author of MADHOUSE – True stories of the inmates of Hostel 4, IITB

The entire manifesto of Ashvin Iyengar is included below: