Panjab University (PU) vice-chancellor, Arun Kumar Grover, along with dean students welfare, Navdeep Goyal reflect on students’ election process, Lyngdoh guidelines and powers vested in PU Campus Students’ Council in an interview with HT senior correspondent.
Panjab University Teachers Association (PUTA) president is a part of senate and becomes a member of most of the committees formed to resolve issues. The president of PU Campus Students’ Council, however, doesn’t have such powers and representation.
V-C: Chancellor is conscious about it. In 2016 senate, the students’ president will be a member of senate. It is expected. It is a likely development. In 2013, we had Dean Students Welfare (to represent students’ council).
The campaigning has started for 2015-16 PU Campus Students’ Council and elections are round the corner. Now, we have seen a lot of elections conducted as per Lyngdoh guidelines. Do you think these guidelines achieved their objective?
V-C: There have been two aspects-guidelines in letter and guidelines in spirit. We have been conducting elections in the spirit of Lyngdoh guidelines. So that no one could take undue advantage of money and muscle power. The election should be conducted to tackle issues. There should be reduction of interference of political parties.
Two years ago, we called Lyngdoh. He had given guidelines many years ago. We called the students’ leaders also.
There should be a satisfaction that nobody took undue advantage of money and muscle power. This year is better than last year. There is no violence. Students are staying in limits. Defacement is negligible. There are not planned violations in aggressive manner. You can’t say that we are allowing violation of norms.
I am a Physicist and on looking at ground situation, I believe in finding a practical solution.
A lot of money is still being spent on campus during the elections. Doesn’t an indirect election or a parliamentary kind of system suit us?
V-C: We used to have an indirect system and there were flaws. That is why we shifted to direct elections.
DSW: It (the indirect elections) was worse. There used to be kidnapping of representatives of departments.
There is interference of political parties in students’ elections. They pump in lot of money to influence students. There is Students’ Organisation of India (SOI), National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and Indian National Students’ Organsation (INSO) on campus which are students’ wings of political parties.
V-C: We are trying to curb money power. The candidates have to submit election expenses. Election expenses are not affecting the outcome. You have to select good candidates with good articulation.
We get students through open competition. We get best students in our undergraduate and post graduate courses. If they could select right people for centre, why can’t they elect right candidates here? I do not think money influences students. It is not easy to mislead students.
Lyngdoh guidelines say that there shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes. But there are students’ bodies which exploit regional identities and garner support in the name of home states.
V-C: The point is, we are living in reality. Are our students removed from Indian polity? They are not. But undue coercion, use of money and muscle power would be checked.
In post Lyngdoh guidelines elections, a lot of dummy candidates are contesting the elections as the requirements state, that a person with 75% attendance and sans a criminal record can contest elections. The real power lies in someone else’s hands.
DSW: Students’ groups have to think about it. Dummy candidates create problems for us as well. At times, people with no mass appeal are elected.