Industry minister Mukesh Agnihotri on Monday interacted with activists of the National Students Union of India (NSUI) at SVSD College, Bhatoli, who were on a hunger strike for the past 12 days, demanding the government to take over the private institution running in Una district . On the assurance of the minister, the students agreed to call off the hunger strike.
Agnihotri gave fruit juice to the students as the strike was called off. The college situated in Ajauli village of Una sadar segment is one of the biggest and oldest colleges of the state and has remained in news for the past two decades for various reasons.
Having started in the private mode with its own management, the college was affiliated with Himachal Pradesh University, offering undergraduate and postgraduate courses, besides self-financed courses such as BBA, BCA, MBA and MCA.
Following differences within the management, the Una deputy commissioner was appointed by the government as the college administrator for a number of years.
After former state president of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) Ram Kumar Sharma joined the college as a lecturer about a decade ago, the student outfit got a sound footing in the institution. Sharma belonged to the Haroli segment and the Congress knew he was a potential BJP candidate, a reason why the Congress wanted the college to be taken over and Ram Kumar posted out to some other college.
Meanwhile, the college staff split into two groups, one demanding the government take over of the institution and the other opposing it.
When the Congress government came to power in 2003 and Agnihotri became a chief parliamentary secretary, the process of government takeover of the institution began in right earnest.
The college was taken over and the process of transferring the staff was in progress when the BJP returned to power. The entire process was stalled and SVSD college again reverted to its private status during the BJP regime.
As per speculation, Sharma indeed resigned from the college and contested the last Vidhan Sabha elections as BJP candidate against Agnihotri. Now, that the Congress is back in power, the demands for the government takeover of the college have re-surfaced. NSUI activists took the lead, mounting pressure on the college administration and the government for the past 12 days.
Speaking at the college, Agnihotri admonished the college management for failing to address the issues of student welfare.
He said the institution would be taken over by the state government in the interest of the employees and students.