The ruling CPM appears to be drawing up plans to enable its students’ wing, the Students’ Federation of India (SFI), to consolidate its hold on the union of the state-run Presidency College. Early this year, the college came under the control of the union for the first time.
“It is important for the SFI to run the Presidency students’ union in the days ahead,” says a CPM functionary, “because no other college has a bigger all-India image than Presidency.”
For the first time in its nearly 150-year-old history, the college has decided to engage the SFI-controlled union to implement a project involving beautification, cleaning and maintenance of the campus.
Studying in Presidency are the children of some of Bengal’s most powerful politicians, like chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s daughter Suchetana. State CPM secretary Anil Biswas’ daughter, Ajanta, passed out earlier this year.
Apparently, the college union’s current drive is aimed at expanding support for the new union and making the average student favourably disposed towards the SFI and consider it a durable option in next year’s student union elections.
The Presidency decision has generated resentment among students belonging to the opponent camp. Earlier, when the union was controlled by an apolitical group, students were never involved in any major development projects. The authorities took the current decision bowing to pressure from the leadership of the existing SFI-controlled students’ union, sources in the college said.
Members of the anti-SFI group said the authorities never conceded to similar demands made by them when they were in power.
“This is clearly an attempt to make the SFI more popular among general students, so that they support the SFI to form the union again next year,” said a student belonging to the anti-SFI camp.
One of the major jobs under the project is cleaning and beautifying the quadrangle, a huge plot lying unused and filled with garbage for the past many years.
According to Sujoy Ray, general secretary of the Presidency students’ union: “The entire college is expected to have a different look after four months when the beautification project is completed”. Implementation of the project has already started.
The quadrangle apart, other parts of the college, like the central portico, canteen and the main ground will be beautified.
In addition, the entire campus will be dotted with potted and hanging plants. The canteen and the union room are also expected to be spruced up, as a considerable amount of money will be spent on cleaning the two places.
The college has also accepted the union’s proposal for opening a new Internet centre for students at subsidised rates.