The news of violence back home during the Student Union elections, including kniving and bomb throwing, did not surprise me. It seems students now a days are more proficient in building bombs, rather than career.
I happened to be an alumni of BJB college, Bhubaneswar for couple of years. Though never participated in any election – vilection, I had witnessed many from close quarters. Violence of such nature was unheard of, goondaism mostly limited to verbal threatening. Friendship with so and so from the village of BADAGADA in the outskirts of Bhubaneswar (now melted into the megalopolis) was enough to assure ones safety.
Aspirants for different posts of student’s body, would push their candidatures via ” Pushing Cards” into the hands of prospective voters. The girls standing in clusters around SANATAN CHAT (a fast food joint selling tangy, often stale stuff, yet popular, mostly with girls) stall, would attract the scented pushing cards. Those were laced with cheap perfumes miserly strewn over a thick, rectangular abrasive paper, would be exclusively reserved for them. The boys had to contend with the blander versions.
No one ever dared to take on candidates from BADAGADA. The post of Sports Secretary was unofficially reserved for them. The BADAGADIAs (the inhabitants of the village were referred as) were supposed to be slow witted, could boast of more brawn, but hardly any brain. Often butt of jokes, their heads were rumored to be stuffed with cow dung. But most were in awe with them. A friend of mine, an outsider who dared to aspire for their reserved post, was kidnapped and threatened. But no bomb or bullets flew around.
The day of reckoning came to climax on the day of “Why I stand meet”, when the contestants are supposed to go at length explaining their candidature on stage. Yet it invariably turns out more histrionics, substance whatever if any, is lost in the cacophony. Post elections, the promises were rarely kept. Yet this annual farce continues.
The icing on the cake used to be the much awaited arrival of the candidates for Dramatic Secretary on the stage. They try their best to outsmart each other by singing loudly, jumping to the tunes of the latest Bollywood hits and telling semi vulgar jokes. The more the giggling of the girls in audience more enthusiastic are those on the stage, their presence enticing the prospective Dramatic Secretaries to swing their hips in more dramatic ways.
Once a candidate tore off his pants on stage, while emulating a dance number from a Jeetendra movie, exposing his DORA, a popular underwear of that time. He continued further until the muffled laughter from girls in the audience with their face covered in palm, gave away to cat calls from the boys. It made him realize that something was wrong. After discovering his plight, he took out his handkerchief (a must carry for youth of that time), covered his exposed area and ran backstage.
But hardly any goondaism was there, basically limited to only verbal threats. Bullets or bombs were strictly fantasy. If someone threatens you then taking the name of so and so from was enough to assure your safety. Apparently things are a whole lot different now.