Bhubaneswar: Student leaders in Odisha on Wednesday demanded that the state government announce the dates for students union elections in colleges and universities.
They warned of protests in colleges and universities if students union elections are not held this year as the schedule for the students’ elections was not mentioned in the academic calendar 2023-2024 prepared by the state Higher Education department.
The Higher Education department has directed vice-chancellors and principals to strictly implement the common academic calendar.
As per the academic calendar, there will be a minimum of 180 teaching days and 72 holidays excluding Sundays.
However, in the academic calendar, the department has not mentioned a schedule to conduct the students’ union election.
Student leaders demanded that the state government announce the dates for conducting the campus polls.
National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) activists here burn the letter of the High Education department in protest.
NSUI, the student wing of Congress, has also warned that it would protest in all the colleges if the students’ union election is stopped.
“In an undemocratic way, the government has stopped conducting the union polls since 2018. If the college union polls are held, BJD 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, AVBP said the government has killed the leadership quality of the students. There are about 20 lakh youth voters on college campuses. So, the government fears that they will go against it, he alleged.
“We strongly demand the conduct of the college polls. Otherwise, ABVP will hit the streets,” warned Patnaik. He also indicated that the student leaders would move the court for seeking the conduct of students’ union elections.
State president of All India Students’ Federation (AISF) Sanghamitra Jena said the government wants to cancel the students’ union polls to stop building new leaders because the ruling BJD allegedly has now become a party of ‘bureaucrats’. President of Biju Chhatra Janata Dal, the student wing of ruling BJD, Devi Ranjan Tripathy said the students are violating the norms set by the Lyngdoh Commission. That’s why the college polls are put on hold.
“In this year’s academic calendar, there is no proposal to conduct the campus polls. If the students’ 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 COVID-19 pandemic.