People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 07

February 17, 2013




DTF Wins with Massive Mandate


Vijender Sharma


THE election for two members of the Executive Council and 26 members of the Academic Council in the University of Delhi (DU) concluded on January 31 and the counting concluded on February 3. All candidates of the Democratic Teachers’ Front (DTF), a Left wing organisation of DU teachers, have won with massive mandates.




These elections were held in the wake of a 53 days long relay hunger strike, organised by the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA); it was withdrawn before the start of semester exams. These were followed by vacations, continued disruption in DUTA activities and meetings by both the factions of Congress ---  Indian National Teachers’ Congress (INTEC) and Academics for Action and Development (AAD) --- and by the BJP sponsored National Democratic Teachers’ Front (NDTF), and declaration by the vice chancellor that he would not meet DUTA leadership as it was an illegal association of Delhi University teachers.


The DTF contested these elections in a situation when the DUTA could not show any achievement on the teachers’ demands. However, that DTF was the only group which carried out the DUTA’s action programmes while the AAD, INTEC, NDTF and some others were seen colluding with the vice chancellor and weakening the DUTA. This was the situation despite the fact that the DTF’s candidate had won DUTA presidentship for a two year term with unprecedented 46 per cent of votes in August 2011.


The teachers in general understood, by their own experience, that such a situation was created by the teachers’ groups like AAD, INTEC, NDTF and others. These groups undid the mandate given for the presidentship of DUTA in 2011 by aligning with the vice chancellor and not letting the DUTA executive function. In doing so, these groups did tremendous harm to the interests of teachers and weakened the DUTA.


These groups became subservient to the vice chancellor in his pursuit to impose the neo-liberal agenda of the UPA government of commercialising higher education and so converting this university as it would suit to the universities of the USA. The structure of a four-year degree programme was passed in the Academic Council of the university with only six members dissenting, including the four belonging to the DTF. The members belonging to the AAD, INTEC, NDTF and others not only voted for the programme; they also humiliated the DUTA as an organisation of teachers as such. They behaved not as representatives of the teachers who had elected them but as members nominated by the vice chancellor. The structure of four-year programme clearly demonstrates that in future teachers will be appointed only on contract for a short while and that permanent appointments would not be coming.




Teachers of the university well understood this nexus between the vice chancellor and the aforesaid groups and this deliberately weakening of the DUTA by them. The young ad hoc teachers, who constitute about half the total number of teachers in Delhi University and have been working for several years, clearly understood the game-plan of the AAD, INTEC, NDTF and others. The university administration had also made it clear that they wanted the landslide victory of the common candidate of both the factions of Congress --- AAD and INTEC --- announced by the president of Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC). For this purpose, officers of the university used the principals and OSDs of several colleges and some heads of the university departments to pressurise the ad hoc teachers not to vote for DTF candidates in this election, but for the AAD and INTEC candidates.


An impression was also sought to be created that the AAD, INTEC and VC’s candidate for the EC --- who has been a president of the DUTA for three terms, all-India president of Federation of Central Universities’ Teachers’ Association (FEDCUTA) and a member of the Academic Council and DUTA Executive earlier --- would win with over 4,000 votes. It was also propagated that the DTF’s candidate --- a much younger teacher who has been a member of the AC and is now a DUTA Executive member --- would trail heavily and would have to wait for surplus votes of the AAD, INTEC and VC’s candidate. Thus they thought that they would be able to finish the DTF that has been fighting against the anti-teacher, anti-student ‘reforms’ in the university, by demobilising the DUTA under its president belonging to the DTF and now by slapping it with a tremendously humiliating defeat in the EC elections. But eventually the AAD, INTEC and university administration had to bite dust when the results came.


As the campaign hotted up, however, teachers in general and ad hoc teachers in particular understood that the AAD, INTEC and VC’s candidate for the EC was the candidate of the Congress party which is working hard for commercialising the higher education and that of the vice chancellor who has been using Delhi University as a laboratory of the neo-liberal ‘reforms’ (in fact ‘deforms’) in higher education. Therefore, the teachers responded positively to the campaign by the DTF that every vote for its EC candidate, Abha Dev Habib, would be a vote against the four-year programme, against the anti-student and anti-teacher ‘reforms’ in Delhi University and against its autocratic vice chancellor.


The general and ad hoc teachers refused to bow down before the pressure created by the university administration, including the bullying of ad hoc teachers by activists of the AAD, INTEC, NDTF and others. They used their right to vote through secret ballot to reject the actions of the vice chancellor, the designs of the AAD, INTEC, NDTF and others to weaken the DUTA, and the drive of commercialisation of higher education by the Congress with the support of the BJP.




As it happened, these general and ad hoc teachers rebuffed the hoax that the AAD, INTEC and VC’s candidate for the EC would cross the 4,000 mark. (This was the candidate given to them by the Congress president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, who had reportedly promised him solution of all problems as mentioned in his election leaflets.) The result was that such a stalwart activist --- one who had been three time president of the DUTA and president of the FEDCUTA, and one who was known to one and all in the university --- somehow scraped through and got just 2,680 votes, a mere 388 more than the DTF’s much younger candidate, Abha Dev Habib, who got 2,292 votes. Both crossed the quota of 2,206.34 votes to win in the first round and first count in the preferential system of voting. The DTF has been winning one of the two seats for the last 25 years, except once in 2006. The BJP-led NDTF’s candidate got just 1,181 votes and suffered a humiliating defeat.


These two candidates were slated to win in any case. The issue was of the margin between the two and of who would come first. The AAD, INTEC and VC’s candidate for the EC won the first position without getting the expected lead of one thousand and five hundred votes while the DTF’s candidate won the second position without depending on anybody else’s second preferences and got just 388 votes less then the former. With such handsome victory of the DTF, the morale of the general teachers has gone high. The impression now gaining ground is that the DUTA is alive and strong despite it being stabbed in the back by the AAD, INTEC, NDTF and others.


A reign of terror today prevails in Delhi University, with students, non-teaching staff and teachers being denied their right to protest. The university today has the most authoritarian regime in its 90 years history, one that threatens teachers and others with dire consequences and wage cuts if they seek justice and resolution of their demands by holding dharnas, demonstrations or a day’s strike. With these results of the AC and EC elections, however, the university administration will have to note that all authoritarian regimes have been decimated by the people --- in the more distant past as well as in recent times. The university administration will also have to realise that their recently started ‘durbars’ remind one of the feudal lords of medieval India, and that today we are no longer in the medieval period but in a period of democracy and debate. The attempt of the university administration --- with the help of the AAD, INTEC, NDTF and others --- to convert this university into a fiefdom or to terrorise the students, teachers and non-teaching staff into submission cannot be allowed to continue.


On December 24, 2012, when he was getting the structure of four-year degree programme passed in the Academic Council, the vice chancellor sought to humiliate the DTF members of the Academic Council by taunting that the DTF had met so many authorities but nothing could be done against him. (By that time, the DUTA office bearers, led by its president belonging to the DTF, had met the education minister and chief minister of Delhi, several members of parliament belonging to different political parties, and department related Standing Committee in the Human Resource Development Ministry. The DUTA office bearers had also met the president of India in his capacity as the visitor of the university and the new HRD minister with the help of the CPI(M)’s Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury, MP.) Now the vice chancellor would better throw his arrogance on a garbage heap and learn that he has to come to the negotiating table and to debate and discuss the issues.




Not only that the DTF has won the EC membership so decisively with the support of the general and ad hoc teachers; all its four candidates fielded for the membership of the Academic Council have also won. Rudrashish Chakaravorty got the highest number of votes followed by Renu Bala. The two crossed the quota of 240 votes to win in the first round and first count. The other two --- Amitava Chakravorty and Sujeet Kumar --- won with handsome votes by crossing this quota in the following round. For the DTF, such results have come after a long time and are very encouraging for the democratic struggle of teachers in the University of Delhi and elsewhere.


Significantly, the teachers of Delhi University refused to be misled by the name of ‘Soniaji,’ the Congress president, who was represented in the election campaign material as one who would solve every problem facing the DU teachers. The teachers well knew that ‘Soniaji’ was there as the Congress president during the four years when the AAD, INTEC and VC’s candidate for the EC was the DUTA president from 2007 to 2011. It was precisely during this period when the Delhi University was converted into a laboratory for the neo-liberal ‘reforms’ in higher education. Moreover, the government of the day continues to treat the university in the same way with the help of these worthies. This must stop --- the teachers cried.


The results of the recent AC-EC elections in Delhi University represent a call to the teachers (and also the non-teaching staff and students) to stand up and be counted against the authoritarian regime of this premier university and wage struggles, without any fear, to stall the dismantling of this university in favour of American universities. The teachers of this university must be saluted for slapping a humiliating defeat on the university administration, on both the factions of the Congress --- AAD and INTEC --- and on the BJP supported NDTF who have been helping this feudal administration in dismantling the Delhi University as a premier university of the country so that the American universities could come here and loot our students and parents, exploit our teachers and non-teaching staff, and convert our country into a colony of the US’s educational imperialism.


Now that the elections are over, it is the duty of everyone to save this premier university of Delhi through strong and united actions under the banner of the DUTA.