Demands for holding student polls at Himachal Pradesh University (HPU) and its affiliated colleges are getting louder ahead of the college principals’ meeting at the varsity on Tuesday. Elections to the student central association (SCA) were deferred for a year in 2014 following campus violence.
Last year after a majority of principals objected to holding elections, the university administration decided to nominate the SCA, giving preference to meritorious students. Within hours of the move almost all nominated students stepped down citing academics as their priority.
On Tuesday principals of all colleges will discuss the possibility of conducting student polls this year.
Student bodies including the left-wing Student Federation of India (SFI), the BJP-backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the Congress party’s student wing, National Student Union of India (NSUI), have been demanding early elections. The SFI submitted a memorandum to college principals in this regard and the ABVP has staged a hunger strike over the issue.
SFI leader Rahul Chauhan said by putting off student polls the varsity administration was “throttling the voice” of students. “Student elections have been indefinitely postponed on the excuse of campus violence but holding them is our democratic right.”
Meanwhile ABVP state secretary Ashish Sikta said: “Student elections are good for a healthy democracy HPU’s model of a nominated SCA has patently failed. They should allow elections to be held as soon as possible.”
NSUI leader Amit Chauhan said the student body would raise the issue with the government.
Elections have been contested under tense conditions since they were first held in 1977. In 1995 due to violent incidents on campuses elections were banned for five years and resumed only in 2000. Campus violence has claimed four lives so far. Suresh Sood of the ABVP was killed in 1986 and Nasir Khan of NSUI was brutally murdered in 1987. Later Kuldeep Datwalia of the ABVP lost his life and NSUI leader Kulbhushan was killed in 1989.