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Chief Editors: Rishabh Israni, Chintan Savla
This year’s General Elections were as chaotic as they could be, and did not fail in adding a very distinctive and idiosyncratic colour to the palette, the palette that is the history of elections. Right from the Facebook DPs soaring to 1k+ likes, to the glorifying quirky hashtags, instizens left no stone unturned in ensuring that the GS candidates are the only faces one could see on the news feeds for quite some time of the week. One of the most highlighted colours of this year’s election was the tete-a-tetes becoming a weapon against the opponent’s camp, integrating both the camps, only by a shared skill set of snooping.
This election seemed to have had a considerable amount of mudslinging and posting of harangues decorated by some personal attacks spewing hatred and negativity. It is rightly said that history repeats itself, so let’s have a look at an interesting election story dated 5 years ago.
Mood Indigo is an independent body that has elections for the post of the Overall Coordinator, but the posts are routinely left uncontested with the automatic ascent of internally chosen CGs to the post of the Overall Coordinator. However, this was not so 5 years back, when one student decided to contest the elections for the Mood Indigo Overall Coordinator, and had plans to bring about changes to the festival.
Here we talk to the candidate himself, Nivvedan, regarding those interesting and action packed elections.
What was your relationship with Mood Indigo before you contested in the elections?
I was not really associated with Mood Indigo – I had not worked with them in any official capacity.
Why did you contest?
It’s a long story – during Mood Indigo 2012, I was rudely woken up by the sound of loudspeakers with someone screaming at the top of their voice quite early in the morning. The noise was from one of the marketing/advertisement stalls. I lived in Hostel 5 and these stalls went all the way up to Campus Hub. Already grumpy and with a headache from the noise, I just wanted some breakfast, but that wasn’t easy either. Though hostels 5 or 8 was one of the open messes over winter, it was full of visitors to MI paying to eat breakfast there and they had this really insane queue for food which was not at all a comforting sight to say the least. This pissed me off all over again because the messes are not equipped to handle such capacity. Maybe MI could have provided good or cheap eating options for campus visitors and they wouldn’t have to overcrowd the messes?
MI totally disrupts normal campus life over several days, and trivial issues like noise complaints seemed to fall on deaf ears. But MI OCs are elected by the student body, so shouldn’t they be accountable to it?
I was not interested in MI; I just wanted to do some work over the winter in peace. There are several students who stay in campus during that time for research, etc. including most PhD and MTech students. I was of the view that most people on campus are either indifferent towards MI or actively despise the disruption. I decided to contest for the elections to try to validate my view.
Did you raise you complaints with MI team?
I discussed the loudspeakers and the overcrowded mess issue with a couple of MI CGs, mostly post the fest. The CGs seemed unapproachable when MI was ongoing.
Some suggest that 4 days of disruption is not a “big deal”…
The disruptors don’t get to decide if it is a big deal. The people whose lives get forcibly and involuntarily disrupted get to decide that, and I considered it a big enough deal to go through the whole nonsensical election process, including shelling out cash on nomination fees, posters, etc. But hey, to be honest, it was also a lot of fun!
Did you talk to someone before taking a final call?
I talked to several people, but I had already made up my mind about contesting. A lot of my friends encouraged me. Most did think it was a joke though. Maybe it actually was.
How did you prepare your manifesto? Did you do Ground work?
I didn’t think groundwork with the old team would be particularly useful. It would have probably involved nitty-gritties of the job in the status quo. I wanted a drastic shift in the structure of MI and wanted to redesign it as I saw fit, so digging into extremely detailed operational issues made little sense.
Ultimately the idea was to test the broader hypothesis that most people were either indifferent to or actively despised the disruption that MI caused. I prepared the broad outlines of my manifesto with Anubhav over a “dinner” in Sunny (Anubhav Mangal is an Ex Insight Chief Ed), and chalked out the final details later.
Did you talk to people from MI? Did they provide you groundwork?
Of course I talked to a few people from the MI team. Overall they tried to discourage me from contesting. Incidentally, one of the other candidates contesting for the same office, Vishesh Sharma, approached me and wanted to know why I was doing it. He wanted to know my motivations behind it. I explained it to him, but I don’t think he quite got my concerns.
I never really asked the outgoing team for formal groundwork though.
How was your election bid received by the general public?
I thought it was well received – one of the more exciting elections I remember. So many people would recognize me on the streets and talk to me about my candidacy and my manifesto – even some professors. I don’t think past MI teams were thrilled at the existential threat. But overall, it was a good experience. I was specially invited to some wings for campaigning. Everyone wanted to be involved in the fun, I guess.
There were a good share of conspiracy theories too. A popular one was that I contested to help Abhijeet Mukhekar in the General Secretary, Hostel Affairs elections. That year, Ajit Lulla, a former MI CG was contesting the GSHA elections, and the theory was I was helping Mukhekar’s election by distracting the “MI junta” from the GSHA elections to focus on their own. As imaginative as the theory was, it was not true.
Was there ever any kind of threat from any direction?
Some hate, yes, but no threats per se.
I have been told that some quarters in IIT believe that you stepped down because MI team threatened that they would resign en masse. Was this the case?
- I did not step down – I lost the election.
- There was nobody to resign at that point. I would have had to form a fresh team with my co-OC had I won.
So, you barely lost the elections. You were in striking range. What went through your mind? What was the post election result mood?
I was mostly relieved because had I won the elections, my final year would have been way more work! Also, since there are two OCs, one of my opponents would have been my co-OC which might have complicated things. So, yes, relief is the word.