Mumbai University elections: Student groups gear up for college polls
With colleges in the city and the University of Mumbai (MU) set to begin the process of electing student councils after a gap of 25 years, student wings of political parties have begun low-key preparations for the polls.
While some groups are looking to add numerical strength with membership drives, others are appointing office-bearers to consolidate their organisation in campuses. While the rules prohibit the involvement of any outside group or individual in these elections, the student bodies, nevertheless, are determined to make their presence felt by propping up candidates across city colleges to support their campaigns.
Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student body aligned with the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), said that it’s planning to build cadre in colleges through its membership drive. “Even if parties and organisations have been prohibited from directly participating in the elections, our cadre in various campuses will contest polls. They will identify the problems facing students and raise them,” said Aniket Ovhal, state secretary, ABVP Konkan.
Amol Matele, Mumbai president, National Students Congress (NSC), the student wing of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), also said that despite prohibitory rules, his organisation will “support” candidates in the elections. “We have launched an online membership drive. We have also appointed unit presidents in around 70 colleges across the city,” he said.
Shiv Sena’s youth wing, Yuva Sena, has objected to the ‘open’ participation of students in the polls. “ABVP has launched an online membership drive in the name of student council elections. We will file a complaint against this violation of rules,” said Pradeep Sawant, an MU senate member from Yuva Sena.
According to the rules, the candidate can’t use any symbol, logo, or image of any political party, other organisation or any person during the election campaign. No panels of the candidates shall be formed for election at any stage, say the rules.
Vipin Singh, city president of National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of Congress, said that it will be a while before the campaigns begin in full swing. “The colleges are still admitting students. Once they get settled, we will begin our campaign. As the elections are happening after a long time, many are not aware of them. We will start by explaining the norms. I have already explained them to our office bearers,” he said.
Singh said that he is concerned about the security of students during campaigning. “With party symbols being prohibited, it will be easy to use muscle power. People should be able to participate without being concerned about their safety,” he said.
Maharashtra Navnirman Vidyarthi Sena (MNVS) of MNS also plans to participate in the elections. “We have always been involved with students and their issues,” said Santosh Gangurde, vice president, MNVS.