Maharashtra Higher and Technical Education Minister Vinod Tawde on Wednesday announced that the student polls in various state universities will be held after completion of Assembly elections, which are scheduled in October. The department has tabled an ordinance in this regard, giving state cabinet the authority to extend dates for the student elections.
The provision in Maharashtra Public Universities Act, 2016, for student elections will be amended after the ordinance is signed by the governor.
“The code of conduct for Assembly elections will be in place during the student elections and various state departments and police will be considerably busy during the period,” Tawde said, adding, “Moreover, there wasn’t a prior provision of deferring student elections owing to circumstances such as natural disasters, among other things.”
He said the decision was taken after consulting with the state chief election commissioner and home secretary on the matter.
As per the statutes, all non-agricultural state universities had declared their election timetable by July 31. The elections in all colleges affiliated to Mumbai University as well as for Mumbai University’s various departments were scheduled to take place on August 30, whereas, Mumbai University Students Council elections were to be held on September 24.
Several student unions and organisations expressed their unhappiness over the government decision. Students were sceptical regarding deferment of the student elections till next year, since the state government had announced student elections last year as well, but didn’t conduct it, saying that the required statutes were not ready. However, Tawde insisted that the student elections would take place this year.
“Given the fact that the student elections taking place after 25 years, it was important that they be conducted on time. But the state government is procrastinating about the student elections,” said Aniket Ovhal, state secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. Ovhal termed the decision “unfortunate”.
“State government was fearful that if its party’s student wing (ABVP) faces indirect defeat , which will be held through ballot, it will reflect on forthcoming Assembly elections,” said Advocate Amol Motele, president of Nationalist Students Congress.
“What is the point of postponing elections till December when the academic year is about to get over and students get busy preparing for final exams. The activities that are supposed to take place won’t happen, which means that the student elections this year will lose its steam,” said Manoj Tekade of Prahar Students Organisation.