HindustanTimes Mon,22 Dec 2014

Loudspeaker the hurdle, no revival of open house debate

Surender Sharma , Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, August 24, 2013
First Published: 23:46 IST(24/8/2013) | Last Updated: 00:53 IST(25/8/2013)

After two years of embargo and finally a formal reconsideration, Panjab University student polls will still not have the open house debate.

Officials told HT they were seriously looking into various parties' demand of reviving the open house debates. "We even took the police's viewpoint. But after examining the Lyngdoh committee guidelines, it appears that allowing the open debate would amount to contempt of court," said Navdeep Goyal, dean, student welfare (DSW).

Even vice-chancellor AK Grover was of the view that all tools for campaigning  and democratic elections should be offered to students but without going outside the ambit of Lyngdoh panel guidelines, it is learnt. The Lyngdoh committee had been constituted on Supreme Court orders and submitted its report in 2006.

"We have gone into all sorts of technicalities and examined it (Lyngdoh committee guidelines and other rules to conduct student elections). Open house debate would require loudspeakers and, as per the guidelines, they cannot be used," Goyal said, adding that police had also advised that the open house should not be revived in view of past incidents of outsiders' interference and hooliganism at such debates.
Sources said that one more reason why police were against the open debate was that there was no efficient mechanism to check the entry of outsiders onto the campus. 
The open house used to be conducted two days before the polling date, last held in 2010. During the session, student leaders could highlight the party's ideology, strengths and issues.

Student parties are not pleased. "Debates are the backbone of elections," said Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) campus president Bhupinder Singh.

National Students' Union of India (NSUI) leader Manoj Lubala, too, opined, "How many students can we possibly reach in a mass contact program? The university should rethink the matter. They can hold debates without loudspeakers."
A top PU official said if the parties were so serious about such debates, they should approach court for permission.

The tentative date of student council election announced by the varsity is September 4. The formal announcement is likely by Tuesday.

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