Bhopal: The Kamal Nath government has gone back on its promise to hold students union elections in the government and private colleges of Madhya Pradesh this year.
The state was expected to hold the students’ elections after a gap of over 15 years. The earlier plan was to hold the elections in September or October. On September 1 the state’s Higher Education Minister Jitu Patwari had told the media that the state government was in favour of students directly electing their representatives and around 1,300 colleges across the state would witness election process.
On Sunday came the announcement that the elections cannot be held this year. However, Patwari said the government will certainly hold the elections next year. The Congress manifesto for the assembly elections – ‘Vachan Patra’ (promissory note) as it is known had said students’ union elections would be will be held in colleges if Congress came to power.
The promise was repeated several times during the one year the government has been in place. Congress-backed student organisation NSUI and BJP-backed ABVP have been preparing for elections in colleges. Both the unions have expressed disappointment over the government’s decision.
Vivek Tripathi, state spokesperson for the NSUI said the party had made a categorical promise about the elections. “They should also keep their word. We will discuss the matter with the government. At the same time, students will continue to fight for rights.”
Chetas Sukhadia, ABVP organisational secretary also said “the Congress government is retracting on its promise. This is very unfortunate. The ABVP will organise state-wide agitation against the government inaction on the issue.”
Patwari said “I tried my best to organise students union elections in colleges this year. I was keen to hold elections because there has been a wide gap since the students got their rights. My department is very large and I got very little time to understand it. Now the examinations are getting closer. As such it is not possible to hold elections this year. Students union elections will be held next year in colleges under any circumstances.
Direct students union polls were last held in the state in 1987. Afterwards, they were either carried out through indirect elections or were cancelled fearing violence in education campuses.
Direct elections to the students union were discontinued in the state in 2003 by the then BJP government. But it had allowed indirect elections till 2006. The students could choose their leaders in the class and the class representatives had to elect the leaders for the student bodies. But this was also discontinued following the death of Professor H.S. Sabharwal during the elections in 2006.
But the process resumed in 2017 when NSUI and ABVP won several seats in different regions. For the first time, AAP’s youth wing Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti (CYSS) had also secured wins. Student polls last year were called off due to Assembly elections in the state.
Sabharwal (59), head of the Department of Political Science at Madhav College in Ujjain, was attacked by a mob of 25-30 ABVP students on August 26, 2006, at the college premises after he cancelled the students’ council elections. He died at the hospital the next day.