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Varsity fever to pick leaders of choice Unions fume at poll panel rules

The first meeting of Patna University (PU)’s six-member committee to assess modalities of conducting the students’ union poll was held on Thursday amid protests by many students’ bodies.

The committee, which was formed last week and is headed by students’ welfare dean Ejaz Ali Arshad, discussed how they would fulfil the recommendations of the Lyngdoh Committee. A committee member, preferring anonymity, said: “Apart from the Lyngdoh committee recommendations, the panel will go through the papers that the state government had sent to the varsity administration for holding the polls.”

Members of JD(U) students’ wing National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), All India Students’ Association (AISA) and All India Students Federation (AISF) staged a demonstration in front of the main administrative building of the university and blocked the main entrance, preventing teachers and employees from entering the varsity premises.

State president of the JD(U) students’ wing Ranjan Kumar, spearheading the agitation, said: “The university should come clear about holding the students’ body polls. Till date, the university has not finalised the date of holding the students’ body poll.” Ranjan claimed that most members of the students’ union are not ready to accept the recommendations of the Lyngdoh committee and if students’ body polls are to held, guidelines must be altered to allow large number of students to take part in the polls.

However, PU vice-chancellor Shambhu Nath Singh said: “We are bound to hold the students’ body poll as per the recommendations of Lyngdoh committee as we don’t have the power to defy Supreme Court directives.”

The state government’s decision to hold students’ union elections in state universities after almost three decades has generated fresh hope among PU students. Vice-chancellor Singh has given green light to the students’ union election after the state government approved holding it on the recommendations of the Lyngdoh Committee.

The students’ body poll in PU is tentatively scheduled for the last week of October or the first week of November. The Supreme Court directive mandates the students’ union elections to be held according to the Lyngdoh Committee guidelines.

The committee recommendations fix the age of students contesting the union elections at 25 and class attendance at 75 per cent. The committee also suggests a ban on the use of printed posters and banners, allowing only hand-made ones to be used on campus. It puts a bar (maximum limit Rs 5,000) on the election expenses and bans political donations.