Published: 13th September 2023
Student leaders across Odisha demand conduction of student union elections
However, the schedule for students' elections was not mentioned in the academic calendar 2023-2024
Student leaders in Odisha on Wednesday, September 13, demanded that the state government announce the dates for student union elections in colleges and universities. They warned of protests if elections were not held this year.
However, the schedule for students' elections was not mentioned in the academic calendar 2023-2024 prepared by the state's Higher Education Department. As per this calendar, there will be a minimum of 180 teaching days and 72 holidays, excluding Sundays, leaving no scope for polls. The Higher Education Department has also directed vice-chancellors and principals to strictly implement the common academic calendar, as per a report by PTI.
Student leaders demanded that the state government announce the dates for conducting the campus polls, nonetheless. National Students' Union of India (NSUI) activists burnt the letter of the High Education department in protest. The student body has also warned that it would protest in all the colleges if the student union elections were stopped.
"In an undemocratic way, the government has stopped conducting the union polls since 2018. If the college union polls are held, BJD (Biju Janata Dal) will be rooted out from the state. So, in fear of defeat, the Naveen Patnaik government is not conducting the campus polls," said Yashir Nawaz, State President of NSUI.
Arijit Patnaik, State Secretary, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (AVBP) was of a similar opinion. He said that the government had killed the leadership quality of the students by stopping the polls. "There are about 20 lakh youth voters on college campuses. So, the government fears that they will go against it. We strongly demand the conduct of the college polls. Otherwise, ABVP will hit the streets," he stated.
Patnaik also indicated that the student leaders would move the court to seek the conduct of student union elections. State president of the All India Students' Federation (AISF) Sanghamitra Jena alleged that the government wanted to cancel the student union polls to stop building new leaders because the ruling BJD allegedly has now become a party of "bureaucrats".
On the other hand, the President of Biju Chhatra Janata Dal, the student wing of ruling BJD, Devi Ranjan Tripathy said that the students who participated in the elections previously had violated the norms set by the Lyngdoh Commission. As a result, the polls were put on hold.
"In this year's academic calendar, there is no proposal to conduct the campus polls. If the student union election will not be conducted, the students can put forth their demands and issues at the administrative level," Tripathy said.
The state government has not been holding college elections since 2018 due to various reasons, including violence on campuses and the COVID-19 pandemic, as per PTI.