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Explained: Trends and rivalries in India’s campus polls

At a time of extraordinary churn on campuses from Hyderabad to Pune, Kolkata to Delhi, a look at the student elections’ map through some top universities.

By: Express News Service |
September 7, 2016 12:55:11 am
college elections, students elections, college student unions, college politics,  JNU students election, Panjab University election, DU elections, university students elections, jnu polls, jnu elections, student union, jnusu elections, student elections jnu, jawaharlal nehru university, india news, india news In several states and universities, however, students’ union elections are either banned, or held only indirectly.

Panjab University students vote today to elect a new union; the students of DU and JNU on Friday. A new union took over at M S University over the weekend. In several states and universities, however, students’ union elections are either banned, or held only indirectly. At a time of extraordinary churn on campuses from Hyderabad to Pune, Kolkata to Delhi, a look at the student elections’ map through some top universities.

Delhi
University of Delhi
Jawaharlal Nehru University
Jamia Millia Islamia

Power in DUSU has swung between ABVP and NSUI; all four seats have been with ABVP for the last two years. A display of money is conspicuous in the campaign, and violations of the poll code are reported frequently.

There was a break in JNUSU elections from 2008-11 after a Supreme Court order; elections were held again in March 2012. The 2016 elections are due on September 9. AISA’s Kanhaiya Kumar is president of the outgoing panel; AISA has two other posts too. Kanhaiya and his comrades Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya and Shehla Rashid gained national popularity after the sedition row. JNUSU elections are managed entirely by students; unions have traditionally leaned left.

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Jamia students’ union elections have been banned since 2006, allegedly because students had started interfering in administrative matters.

Rajasthan
University of Rajasthan, Jaipur

High Court banned student elections across the state in 2005; resumed by govt of Ashok Gehlot, himself a former NSUI leader, in 2010-11. In 2014, High Court scrapped the 2013 RUSU elections over alleged violations of Lyngdoh committee recommendations. In the elections held on August 31, an Independent won the president’s post; ABVP won the other 3.

Gujarat
Gujarat University, Ahmedabad
Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara

Gujarat University doesn’t have a students’ union; it has a system of electing 10 student representatives to the 118-member senate. The NSUI has traditionally won a majority; for the first time in January 2015, ABVP won 6 out of 10 seats in the senate. Elections of January 2016 could not be held.

M S University saw no elections in 2014 and 2015 after a 2013 petition alleging violation of Lyngdoh guidelines. In the 2016 elections, held on September 3, NSUI won the key posts of general secretary and vice-president.

Punjab
Panjab University, Chandigarh

Regular elections to the 4-member Panjab University Campus Students’ Council (PUCSC); all 4 members now from Students’ Organisation of India, students’ wing of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). NSUI won in 2013 and 2014. 2016 elections scheduled on September 7.

Haryana
Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra

No elections since 1996. BJP government has said they will restart this year; modalities are being worked out.

Madhya Pradesh
Barkatullah University, Bhopal

The government is against holding students’ union elections in the state, saying it leads to campus violence. Last direct elections were held in the 80s, and even the indirect elections and nominations stopped in 2011.

Maharashtra
University of Mumbai, Mumbai
University of Pune, Pune

Direct students’ elections have been banned in the state since 1994 after several incidents of campus violence, most significantly of NSUI leader Owen D’Souza in 1989. A system of indirect election and merit-based nomination has been in place ever since. A new Maharashtra Universities Act, allowing elections again, is proposed, but there has been no concrete progress.

Kerala
University of Calicut, Kozhikode
University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram

Vibrant culture of student politics; unions lead festivals, agitations, etc. Annual elections fought by KSU (student outfit of Congress), SFI (CPM), ABVP (BJP), MSF (Muslim League). SFI rules most unions currently; elections due in October-November.

Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla

Periodic violence has been reported since the campus was set up in 1970, mainly between the SFI and ABVP. Barring 1999-2000 when the ABVP swept all four seats, the SFI has dominated elections. No direct elections have been held since 2011 because of trouble; a system of nomination has been in vogue. This year’s process is on.

Uttar Pradesh
Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh
Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi
University of Allahabad, Allahabad

AMU has seen regular elections; they were not held in 2015-16 over reasons of law and order, but are scheduled to be held in the 2016-17 session. Candidates do not contest as nominees of student wings of political parties.

BHU has seen no elections since 1997; university authorities claim they are resolving all issues, and there is no need for a union. The ABVP and Samajwadi Chhatra Sabha of the SP are active on campus.

Elections are held regularly in Allahabad University; according to university authorities, former President Shankar Dayal Sharma and former Prime Ministers Chandra Shekhar and V P Singh have been student union officebearers in the past. SP leader Richa Singh became AUSU’s first woman president last year, opposed BJP MP Yogi Adityanath’s visit to the campus, triggering controversy.

Bihar
University of Patna, Patna

Elections to Patna University Students’ Union were held after 28 years in December 2012, but there have been no elections since. In the 2012 elections, CPI-affiliated All India Students’ Federation won 2 of the 5 seats; students’ wings of BJP, RJD and JD(U) won a seat each.

Andhra Pradesh
Andhra University, Visakhapatnam

No students’ union elections since 1988, the biggest university in AP. But political parties are very active at AU.

Telangana
University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad
Osmania University, Hyderabad

Students’ union elections are held every year at UoH. Main contest is between SFI and ABVP; ABVP hasn’t won since 2008. An alliance of Students Federation of India (SFI), Tribal Students Forum (TSF), Dalit Students’ Union (DSU) and Telangana Vidhyarthi Vedika (TVV) swept the October 2015 elections; PhD scholar Rohit Vemula, who committed suicide on January 17, 2016, was a leading campaigner for DSU and SFI.

No students’ union at Osmania since 1984. A clash in 1988 between Radical Students’ Union (RSU) and ABVP killed a student leader, after which elections were banned in all state universities in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. But political activity is very strong in OU; it was the nerve centre of the Telangana movement.

Odisha
Utkal University, Bhubaneswar

The university has a students’ union currently; Biju Chhatra Janata Dal, the BJD’s students’ wing, is in power. Violence and disruptions have been a feature of university politics over the last two decades. Union elections were not held in 2012, 2013 and 2015.

Assam
Gauhati University, Guwahati

Elections to GU Post-Graduate Students’ Union (GU-PGSU) have been held regularly. Campus was once a stronghold of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), and Prafulla Kumar Mahanta became Chief Minister straight from his hostel. The present GU-PGSU, whose term ends in less than six weeks from now, is a mix of several student bodies. GU is important in Assam’s politics as a nursery of young leaders and politicians.

West Bengal
University of Calcutta, Kolkata
Presidency University, Kolkata
Jadavpur University, Kolkata

Calcutta University has had students’ union elections every year in recent years, except in 2014-15, with TMCP, students’ wing of Trinamool Congress, dominating. Presidency University — Presidency College until July 2010 — didn’t have elections between 2011 and 2013; a non-partisan, anti-establishment group called Independents’ Consolidation (IC) is in power. JU has separate students’ unions for the arts, engineering and science streams; left affiliated groups have been in power continously for the past decade.

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