The Independent Student Newspaper of Ashoka University

Dhamma Backs out of Elections, New Members Asked to Leave

As voting day draws closer, recent developments have quickly changed the political landscape.

Manini Menon, Batch of 2019

Last night, in a surprising turn of events, the student body received an email stating Dhamma’s decision to no longer contest in the upcoming elections. The reasons they cite in their email may be summed up hence: (i) “structural and ideological issues” that arose due to (ii) the effect the impending threat of elections had on their “founding principles”, culminating in their decision to (iii) place above all their emphasis on “keeping their promises to the student body”. These reasons, broadly, led them to take some time off, compromising short-term gain for the greater good.

Additionally, some of the new members who had joined Dhamma this year were asked to leave the party.

The Edict spoke with two members of Dhamma who were removed from the party, Arnav Mohan Gupta and Kanishk Gomes. They argue that Dhamma’s explanation for their (Gomes and Gupta) no longer being in the party are untrue: neither were they inducted unfairly, nor did they express any ideological differences with Dhamma. Indeed, Gomes says: “there is no party at Ashoka whose ideology I believe in more than Dhamma’s”. When asked if he still believes in this ideology, he replied: “I believe the ethos of Dhamma, but I refuse to see it in the existing Dhamma”, and Gupta concurred.

When contacted for comment, Dhamma cited “irreconcilable differences”, and argued that Gomes’ words make manifest that they had different conceptions of the party ethos.

Gupta and Gomes have decided, in light of the events of the past 36 hours, to start their own party on campus, and contest this month’s elections.

Where does this leave the upcoming elections? As of now, the lineup includes Prakrit, the independent candidates who will soon be revealed to the student body, and perhaps the newly formed BJP, and the party that Gomes and Gupta intend to form. The latter two players are yet uncertain, since neither of them has formally declared an intention to contest elections or released any form of promotional material/manifesto. This translates to an effectively a one-party system, with a few individuals thrown into the mix.

While the events of the past day are sure to be narrated differently by each individual involved, there are some questions that are important for us to ask, as students and as voters. What will it mean when Dhamma makes its promised comeback next year? Did their two-year stint in power make them comfortable? Is it time to rethink the way in which elections at Ashoka are conducted? Is it time to reconsider the ways in which the party system at Ashoka operates, and ask tougher questions about the real ideological differences that come to light during the election cycle? Perhaps we must hold our elected representatives and the parties to which they belong to much higher standards of transparency and due process. What is clearly evident is that the coming elections will involve several new players, and hopefully, mark the way for a new game.


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