While education minister Bratya Basu made it clear on Tuesday that the state government would take action against those flouting the order of no students union election over the next six months, the order in itself has led to much confusion among various students groups, especially in colleges where nomination forms have already been submitted.
“We will move for strict action against those found flouting our advisory. I am in talks with officials of my department and will also discuss the matter with the chief minister,” Basu said.
Refuting claims of the advisory being a knee-jerk move to the violence over the filing of nomination for student union polls at Harimohan Ghosh College of Garden Reach, Basu said the decision was taken in the interest of students taking the ongoing board exams.
However, there are questions on why the government didn’t move for a stay on student union polls earlier and why were they allowed at a time last year when the boards were on.
Quizzed on the same, Basu said, “We took note of the situation last year and had been holding extensive discussions on it for a while.”
He added, “With the police already tied up with exam-related duties, it would be difficult to arrange for adequate protection for the polls. Hence, it has to be surmised that those speaking against our advisory doesn’t have the broader interest of the board examinees at heart.”
However, leader of Opposition Suryakanta Mishra said, “We have written to the chief minister, asking her to reconsider the move to suspend student polls over the next six months.”
According to him, the stay on student polls comes as an illustration of the administrative failure of this government.
“It shows the government on back foot. Instead of tackling the problems head on and dealing with them, this government is merely thinking up ways to skirt them,” Mishra added.
The students of Jadavpur University staged a protest march on campus, demanding an immediate rollback of the stay on students’ polls.
“The government says it’s difficult to mobilise adequate police arrangements at a time the board exams are on, and there was little option but to defer the polls.
We feel the decision was made with an eye on the larger political picture. We don’t see what the college polls have to do with the panchayat elections,” Saumya Pradhan, assistant general secretary of students’ union of the Arts faculty who led the protests at JU, told HT.
Students aligned to the Independents Consolidation (IC) of Presidency University tendered a memorandum against the move at Bikash Bhavan, headquarters of the state education department, on the day.
Speaking to HT, Shankudeb Panda, state president of Trinamool Congress Chatra Parishad (TMCP), said that in colleges where the electoral process had already begun and would now be stayed over the next six months, the process would resume from the point where it stalled after six-month period gets over.
“Nomination forms for the union polls at Hari Mohan Ghosh College have already been filed. However, the elections scheduled for February 28, would be held six months later.
The government has only stayed the union polls for some time and has not announced re-elections,” Panda said.
However, Panda’s remarks prompted many students’ groups to cry foul and question the logic behind the move.
“The move isn’t feasible. The present third year batch would pass out six months later. The new batch might not prefer the present nominees and opt for a different group.
Even some of the nominees, who are third year students, would pass out,” state Students’ Federation of India (SFI) secretary Madhuja Sen Roy told HT.