BHU students block Smriti Irani's convoy
Students of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) blocked Union human resource development minister Smriti Irani's convoy in Varanasi on Saturday.
They were demanding restoration of the BHU students' union for which elections have not been held since 1996. The situation unfolded when the minister was about to leave the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth (MGKV), another university in the city, after attending a seminar.
The minister managed to enter her car despite the presence of the students. However, as the convoy was about to leave, BHU students blocked the way and raised slogans. The minister then got down from her vehicle and interacted with students. Irani assured the students she would look into the matter. She also accepted a memorandum from the students.
While the BHU students have been demanding restoration of students' union, the administration earlier this week declared a schedule for multi-phase students' council elections, parts of which entail indirect voting.
The student organisations of all political parties have opposed students' council polls. The NSUI has already announced it would boycott the students' council polls slated to conclude on November 26.
In students' council election, indirect polling for the post of general secretary is held.
The BHU administration appoints a professor as president of the students' council and dean of students is appointed its vice president.
Undergraduate, post graduate and PhD students elect class representatives who, in turn, elect the general secretary of the students' council.
The students say this is not enough and want direct democracy on the campus.
It was in 1996 that the BHU students' union election was held for the last time. In 1997, violence took place on a large scale on the BHU campus and across the city following cancellation of nomination papers of a candidate Manoj Singh, Two students had died in the violence. No students' union election was held at the BHU after that.
Campus democracy was partially restored when the first students' council election was held in November 2011 for the academic session 2012-13. For five years prior to that, the students' council was nominated by the BHU administration.