The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) concluded its bi-yearly polling yesterday. This year’s polls witnessed a fierce battle between the left panel led by the Democratic Teachers’ Federation (DTF) and the National Democratic Teachers’ Front (NDTF) backed by the right wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The DTF’s Rajib Ray bagged the presidential post with 3,750 votes, and defeated NDTF’s AK Bhagi who got only 3,480 votes. This is the fourth consecutive time that the DTF has managed to consolidate its power over the panel.
With a total of 7,748 votes being cast, the elections witnessed a massive voter turnout of over 83.6% out of 8,000 teachers who were eligible to vote. Interestingly, over 500 votes tallied were invalid. This year’s election agenda was focused on the Draft National Education Policy (NEP), regularisation of teachers and challenges to the implementation of the economically weaker section (EWS) quota in a smooth manner.
The DTF won three other seats apart from Rajib Ray. DTF panel contestant Professor Abha Dev Habib won with over 9,057 votes, while Mahendra Kumar Meena of the NDTF bagged 8,168 votes. V S Dixit and Jitendra Kumar Meena of the DTF also won the post of the DUTA executives. In the run up to the polls, the DTF had said that it has tirelessly organised protests, petitions and fought for the rights of teachers. In a statement, it highlighted its efforts to resist government moves to “nudge universities and colleges towards the market” such as a proposal to “generate 30% of expenditure through commercial activities”, and the autonomous college scheme which would turn colleges into “commercial entities”.
Also read: DUTA Elections: Battle of Left vs Right, Draft NEP, Regularisation Dominate the Debate
It also highlighted campaigns to restore the 200-point reservation roster, and taking up of pension-related issues of teachers and employees. Speaking to NewsClick previously, Abha Dev Habib had said, “I think we are living in times when students are fighting their own struggles, employees are fighting their own struggles. Thus, we cannot leave teachers’ struggle to an organisation which has aligned itself with those in power and will lack the commitment to fight the anti-people educational policies.” The pitch of the elections this year was centred around the idea of the university amid heightened polarisation over issues of establishment of the statue of VD Savarkar and the removal of chapters on Godhra from the History syllabi.
In the last elections held in 2017, Rajib Ray had been elected as the President of the Delhi University Teachers’ Association with 2,636 votes. That year, the NDTF managed to bag four seats. Ray had called for the unity of teachers and emphasised that we "must be able to stand up against every unreasonable and vindictive minister, official, principal and bureaucrat.” Alongside this, the left panel was strengthened due to support from the SC, ST and OBC Teachers Forum.