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American model for varsity election debate

- Candidates for Patna University union to thrash out issues ahead of polling next month

Candidates taking part in Patna University students’ union election this year would engage in a verbal skirmish like the statesmen contesting in the democratic encounter for the White House.

In US presidential elections, nominees of the two largest political parties — Democratic and Republican — debate in public, thrashing out national issues (see chart). Young student leaders who seek to get elected as the PU students’ union president this year would emulate them in a similar debate.

The election is slated on December 11 and the debate would take place two-three days before that. The varsity authorities plan to televise the event.

PU vice-chancellor Shambhu Nath Singh said: “The debate of the presidential candidates would allow the students to know them and their agenda.”

Students and teachers of the university are happy about the planned event. Patna College student Saif Danish Karim said: “We have witnessed the recent debates between (Barack) Obama and (Mitt) Romney during the US presidential elections. If the same model is adopted for PU, it would be very helpful for the students.”

He added: “There are a number of issues, like provision for safe drinking water, sanitation and improvement of library facilities, which we would like our union to take up with the authorities. In the course of the debate, we shall find out which candidate is the best suited to represent us.”

A senior teacher said: “We have often seen students demonstrating on campus, disrupting classes and even destroying university property. But the debate will bring out true leaders, who can engage in the democratic process.”

VC Singh said he had been inspired to organise a debate for the PU elections by the famous students’ debate held in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). “While working at JNU, I observed that candidates were very eloquent while debating,” he said. “Often, students not associated with any political organisation would make up their mind about who they would vote for during the election debate. PU students would also get the same opportunity this year.”

PU students’ election is being held after 29 years.