Two candidates supported by the Maharashtra Navnirman Vidhyarthi Sena (MNVS), the students’ wing of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), won the students’ council election of the Mumbai University held on Wednesday. Reshma Patil, a student of Prahladrai Dalmia Lions College, Malad, and Piyush Jhende, a student of CHM College, Ulhasnagar, were elected chairperson and secretary, respectively, of the students’ council.
While Patil and Jhende were supported by the MNVS, the other two candidates were backed by National Students Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the Congress. Both the MNVS-backed candidates won the elections by four votes each.
“Four candidates contested the elections, two each for the posts of chairperson and secretary. Of the 14 members, nine voted for the MNVS. We will soon hold a meeting with the newly-elected members and decided on organising an event for the students,” said Mridul Nile, director of the Department of Students’ Welfare (DSW), Mumbai University.
The two students who will now be in the opposition are Swami Nandini, a student of DEd College, Panvel, and Pranav Bhatt, a student of Mithibai College, Vile Parle.
“I am happy that I have got an opportunity to represent the students of the university,” said Patil.
The elections were conducted on Wednesday, following controversy and objections raised by candidates and students’ organisations, who alleged political interference.
Two weeks ago, four female students, who were selected as the university representatives and were backed by the Yuva Sena, had complained to the university that they had been threatened over the phone by students’ wings and some political parties, who asked them to contest elections on their behalf.
The university had then provided security to these students. The candidates subsequently withdrew from the election process.
Following this, a students’ organisation, Prahar Vidhyarthi Sanghatana, also alleged that members of political parties were present during the scrutiny of the candidates.
After the nomination and scrutiny process of the polls were conducted last week, MNVS representatives said a few students had not filled the forms themselves and a third party had submitted the forms on their behalf, which was against the norms of the university polls.
NSUI activists are now crying foul over the election results. Suraj Singh Thakur, NSUI Chairperson (Mumbai), alleged that the Yuva Sena and the MNVS had a hidden alliance. “Yuva Sena candidates alleged that they were being threatened, and later submitted a letter, boycotting the elections. On the election day, however, the four candidates who backed out, voted for the MNVS. Isn’t this a hidden alliance? We have always worked for the welfare of students and even as the opposition, we will continue to do so,” Thakur said.
MNVS chief Aditya Shirodkar, however, dismissed the allegations. “The four female candidates are individual members of the students’ council. They are free to vote for whoever they want to and they exercised their right. We have no alliance, hidden or open, with the Yuva Sena,” said Shirodkar.