Year 3 : Feb 2004: The battle for the biggest post in the hostel, the House Secretary, was more a game of Chess than anything else. And it was a funny game, with not two opponents, but multiple ones. It was a fight based on ideologies, personal egos and worst of all, plain opportunitism. This was also the year when Kara conducted Rendezvous, and inspite of all the hype surrounding it after Tryst, couldnt live up to the expectations.
The stage had been set way before, with the Maintenance Secretary deciding to divide the working clas of the batch into two parts: the C wing and the D wing. The others, which also included some working junta, were pushed into double rooms. The C wing (also known as the Power wing) included 11 people, who were strong members of the Elite Group. They were also supposed to include two more people, both the two 'losing' candidates for Sports Secretary, who however decided to join the D wing. After a bit of adjustment then, the batch was roughly divided, demographically now, into three : the C wing, the D wing and the double room residents. This was also the time when the 'Loser' Group was formed. A group of six people, five of them from D wing, and one from a double room. We all had something to cry about (the system, politics, love etc), and hence we all deemed ourselves as "Losers'. But more of it later.
The Power wing included the Maintenance Secretary and the Mess Secretary. And both of them were deemed to be excellent candidates for the post of the House Secretary, because they had done plenty of work during the past year, leading Karakoram to the second spot in BHM. And they had plenty of other decent candidates as well, who could have won on any given day. There were plenty of working people in the D wing as well, actually more of them, but they didnot have any ambition of a post, and they were also afraid of the responsibility of leading the hostel next year. Moreover, the "political" people from D wing were more interested in external posts which were promised to them (Me included).
The actual Politics in the third year started off with the representatives from C wing coming up to me and proposing to me, the name of a candidate to whom I could hardly agree to. They talked about setting a tradition of making unanimous House Secretaries, something that had been their aim last year as well. Not because he wasnt decent, but because I had always sensed in him a negligence towards his responsibilities. Now, this person (lets call him Candidate A), was easily the best dancer/actor in our year, and had also served as the D&D representative, where his performance was far from satisfactory. And he had not done much of note during the past year as well. Moreover, A was a person who evoked extreme reactions from people. According to me, he had a habit of taking up a project with much enthusiasm and then leaving it midway. But at that time, there was no other candidate, and I desperately started looking for someone, for I personally didnt feel he fitted the bill.
Actually, I had been looking earlier too for one. A consensus candidate, I reasoned, would be a non-political figure who had worked for the hostel, and could handle the responsibility well. Along with Mr. D, who was one of the 'losing' Sports Secretary candidates (ironically, he was the "Elite Group's" choice then, but over the past year, we had grown quite close, not the least because of being losers; and we were very good friends), we singled out Mr. P, who had a political acumen, and was on good terms with almost everyone in the batch. Moreover, he had proved his credentials as a representative, with some pretty good results. He was excited and ready to take up the challenge, as well, and as such was probably the best House Secretary, consensus or not. And so we (me and D) decided on projecting him as a unanimous candidate.
But things just got more complicated, when S, who was another 'loser', and the winning Maintenance Secretary (who had however not been able to hold the post), decided to approach me as a friend, and ask my support for his bid to the post. Now this was something I had not been expecting, because he had refused me when I had earlier asked him about his political ambitions. But he had been loaded wit pressure and support from a few friends, who wanted him to stand just to teach a lesson to the Elite Group for last year. And so he was counting on my support, being one of his best friends. However, I had already committed myself to the ideas of making a consensus candidate in P, and so I could not promise anything to him, which sort of spoilt our relations a bit for a small time.
To pursue our dream of a consensus candidate further, I and D arranged a meeting of the prospective candidates (A and S) in a bid to pursue our own agenda of pushing P's name as a consensus. The result was anything but postive. S, sensing himself alone and without support, walked out of the meeting, to return back with his trusted ally, Mr. K (who, because of his image as a nogooder, was disliked by everyone else in the room). The Mess Secretary (henceforth called B, who was also the chief campaigner for A) went on a monologue to prove A's deservibility for the post, and to downplay any other prospective candidates. The meeting ended with both the candidates' groups refusing any concessions for batch unity and deciding to fight it out. And hence P dropped out from the list.
Now that no consensus had been reached, it was a pretty easy decision for me to make. I had supported S vehemently during the Maintenance Secretary Elections, and so was sure which side my emotions ruled. And I was prudent enough to tell this on the face to A and B, so that there was no personal hostility. And we started getting more people in our year working for S. D was supposed to be closer to S than to A, but he decided to opt for a neutral stance. We had to look for support elsewhere, and were expecting the non-working junta to support us, just because we were "closer" to them than the Elite Group. And then another thunderbolt struck.
The Sports Secretary, who had done nothing of note the entire year, decided to contest the elections as well. That, for me, was the end of any hopes that S had of winning the elections. The support that we were expecting from the Non-Working juntaa had been swept away in one big blow. And the worse thing for S was, that the Working Group, was also not entirely in his favour. The support base for S (that had made him win 34-17 last year) dwindled because of the following reasons :
a) People of the Working Group saw him as being too ambitious.
b) The presence of K as his "running mate" despised them no end. The working group feared, that if S was elected, K would hold the reins, a theory which I tried hard to dissuade.
c) The non-working group were now definitely supporting the Sports Secretary.
The support for S in our year then, was at a low. However, things could only get better from here. The first small success that came was that D was finally convinced to openly support S. The other good thing that we achieved was to persuade the Cultural Secretary, who had a bias towards A, not to openly support any of the candidate.
The task at hand, though was still a pretty formidable one. We needed to convince the freshers, all of them cheering for A (because, "he looks more like a House Secretary than S does."). We also needed to get the support of the M.Techs, without which the battle could not have been won. And so we decided stratergies day in and day out. We were also keeping an eye on the external elections, as our fortunes were also at stake. We got a big boost when R, a batchmate, and one who had access to around 35 votes decided to support us. And so finally the game was on. We were really working hard to get our message of having "worked for the hostel, having a good team and having external candidates in our side. " We were also banking on the fact that in a three way contest, we were sure to garner most of the Sports Secretary's and A's second choice votes (just because S was the only other acceptable candidate for the other). But the fact that the freshers were still split between A and the Sports Secretary, with only a handful even thinking about working for S, made things very difficult for us. And then another miracle happened. But before that there was also a drama.
The drama was this : P had always wanted to avoid elections, fearing it would split the batch permanently, and was even worried about the division of votes among S and A would help the Sports Secretary to the post, a scenario which most of the working group wanted to avoid. And se he proposed another consensus : that of making D, whose external aspirations had been almost crush being the consensus candidate of A and S groups, to take on the Sports Secretary. And he came to me with the proposal, to which I agreed wholeheartedly. For two reasons : the more obvious one being that it would almost assure D's victory, but the more clever one was that it helped me make P feel that S listened to me and D, and not K. I asked P to propogate the idea in the C wing, and to take it from me that once A and B agreed, D would be the agreed choice, because I had said yes on S behalf. And I did not even talk to S about it. Because I knew fully well that A and B would never agree, and while that proved them to be power hungry, I could win some symphaty back for S. And P tried for four hours to make A and B see reason, to no avail. P felt humiliated, and came back, a defeated man. And I told P that S had agreed, because he wasnt power hungry et al,and because I was more influental than K over him, but because the C wing hadnt relented let it be a full fledged fight. And so it was.
"The miracle" was not as much a miracle, actually, than a masterpiece played by yours truly in this game. It was probably the defining moment of those elections, when we managed to rope in loser M into our campaign barely three days before the D-day. Now M was another member of the loser group, but had promised to remain neutral during the entire campaign. He had been largely maligned during last year's anti-campaigning allegations, and as such had decided to stay away from all politics this year. He had instead, concentrated on making strong relations with the juniors, and through his selfless work and fundaes, was the inspiration for almopst all freshers. And when he came into the action, the entire freshers swung. Almost the entire batch, on a single day, decided to shift towards S. And that made things so much easier.
Then there were also news that two postgraduate candidates were also standing for the post, a news that was greeted with relief from our side. Becuase we had our consolidated 35-postgraduate vote bank, which wasnt going anywhere, any postgraduate candidate would only cut into A and the Sports Secy's vote bank. And that made us the favourites, up from the Losers tag we had barely three days ago.
A day before the D-day another proposal was mooted, and this came from the outgoing House Secretary : of a surprise voting among the B.Techs to decide one candidate who goes on to meet the two postgraduate in the final round. So as to counter the 'threat' of a postgraduate as a house Secy. The proposal was rejected by us, because we were very sure of our chances, and had calculated the numbers perfectly, and were sure of winning. There were other reasons as well, but its imprudent to write all of them here.
By this time, our hostel, which had won handsomely the past two times, was sitting on the losing side externally, because of desertions. I was supposed to be the BSP candidate for the alliance, and it hung in balance. But we were almost losing everything else.
By the time the D-day came, a lot of things that were not going in our favour changed. S was seen positively by the working group people, and some of them actually voted for him in the end, being tired of A and B's power hungry attitude. In the end, by the time of the first counting, S was in a huge 40 vote leads, and had got the requisite 50% votes by the third recount. The race for the second spot was much closer, with the Sports Secretary beating one Postgraduate candidate (the other one got only thre votes) and A by a couple of votes, in that order. A, who was the favourite, finished fourth. It was an unexpected victory, and time for a celebration.And K was on top of the world, as was S. But there were more important things to be done, I reminded S: The external elections.
Karakoram was losing this time around, and we searched for ways to make some hostel jump over to our alliance. It never happened. We were destined to lose, keeping the tags of loser alive. The only good thing about being in a losing alliance is that an hostel can have more external candidates to boot of. And so me (BSP), S (BHM) and D (BSW) all filed the nominations. S was a dummy, I was supposed to contest, and I might have had even won, but on the last moment, my English Chief Editor from Nilgiri was made the candidate, probably a consequence of some anti-alliance voting by Karakoram. And he lost by two votes. D lost in BSW as well. Our last hope remained SAC, which had S's ex-roomie (a core A supporter ironically) pitted against a Jwala candidate. It was close, but again we lost. We had just a Chief Editor of English to show up that year.
And then came our first lesson in external politics: The AIC elections. We decided to put up a candidate for the post, a reluctant candidate albeit, who was the other losing candidate for the Sports Secy (working Group's candidate). Me, S and S's ex roomie (Mr. AD!!) tried the entire day for some miracle to happen, and there were a few signs that one might, but there was none. He lost, but we had our first experience of External Politics, and we had sure liked it.
Now all I was looking forward to was next year, and to lead Karakoram to victory in style. That was the aim, and I was hoping that S would opt me over K. And that hope dimmed the moment K was nicknamed "Advaniji" by people around. But there was plenty to look forward to next year.