With the general elections approaching, almost all political parties are harping on lifting the ban on the elections to student bodies to attract the youth. The political parties have increasingly started pitching for the issue especially after the outcome of the Delhi assembly elections where majority of the youth in the age group of 18 to 25 are reported to have voted for the Aam Aadmi Party.
Elections to the student bodies were banned by the then chief minister, Bansi Lal, in 1996. Now even the ruling Congress have joined the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) while promising that the ban would be lifted from the student union elections.
Member of Parliament from Rohtak and son of Haryana chief minister, Deepender Hooda has also started supporting the elections to the student unions. Digvijay Chautala, leader of the INLD, during his 54-day tour of the state focused his speeches on attracting youth and fully supported election to the student unions. Besides, HJC supremo Kuldeep Bishnoi has also announced to hold student union elections if voted to power.
Meanwhile, various student wings of political parties like Indian Students Federation (ISF), Students Federation of India, Indian National Students Organisation and Janhit Students Organisation (JSO) have decided to start agitation in support of their demand for lifting ban on the student union elections.
The ISF has decided to announce its programme in this regard during its state-level convention at Sirsa in February.
The political parties are eyeing the youth in the next general elections as more than 50 lakh out of total 1.39 crore voters in Haryana are in the age group of 18 to 39, which can tilt the balance.
According to an estimate, more than 15 lakh youths have not shown interest in getting themselves registered as voters yet, which student leaders claim was due to the absence of students union election.
After the student union elections were banned in 1996, all the political parties started taking the issue lightly and except for verbal assurance for lifting the ban by one leader or the other no party committed itself to lifting the ban till few months ago.
The ban was not lifted during the INLD rule as well as Congress regime despite the fact that the Lyngdoh committee constituted by the union government had given its suggestions in favour of holding the student union elections.
National joint secretary of ISF, Roshan Suchan, regretted that for the past 17 years the political leaders had talked about the youth power and paid lip-service but no one worked in the direction of lifting the ban. He said youths are the biggest segment amongst the voters. It was wrong to say that student elections result into violence, he said and claimed that during the past 13 years, 13 students had been murdered in educational institutions while the ban was imposed after the murder of two student leaders.
State president of JSO, Pradeep Kalatgariha said student elections in Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University are being held democratically without any violence. He expressed surprise that youth leaders of the Congress, Deepender Hooda and INLD leader Abay Chautala took active part in the student union elections in Delhi but do not support student union elections in Haryana.
He said students must participate in the democratic elections so that they can express their point of view on various issue concerning the people, especially the youths.