Calcutta, Aug. 27: Mamata Banerjee wants all colleges under a particular university to hold their elections on the same day to prevent “goons” from hopping campuses and creating trouble but the chief minister does not support any move to delink student polls from mainstream politics.
In a 40-minute speech today to mark the foundation day of the Trinamul student union, she asked supporters to write “be cool” on their left arms but did not mention the proposed bill to rid student polls of violence. The bill is stuck because of her opposition.
“In colleges under one university, I want the elections to be held on one day. Bringing goons from outside and interference in the election process can be stopped if the elections are held on one day,” Mamata told the Trinamul Chhatra Parishad rally on Mayo Road.
Even if many had thought student elections should be delinked from mainstream politics, the chief minister isn’t one of them.
She pointed to ministers and party functionaries such as Subrata Mukherjee, Sonali Guha, Aroop Biswas and Tapas Roy on the dais and said: “Many, including me, entered politics through student unions. Most ministers in our government were directly involved in student politics.”
The proposed bill was based on recommendations by the J.M. Lyngdoh committee on electoral reforms in universities and colleges. According to sources in the higher education department, it had provisions that made attendance and academic records the criteria for selection of candidates and barred the use of party symbols in the elections.
The state government had put an embargo on campus polls following violence on campuses across the state.
Although the government had promised a law to free educational institutions from political interference, the bill is said to be lying in the chief minister’s office.
Mamata admitted to poll-related violence on campuses but did not blame the students. “There are many colleges that are politicised and the heads do not allow elections there. In some places, the students are forced to create trouble,” she said.
She asked the TMCP to alert MLA Roy about college authorities that “are not co-operating in holding college elections”.
But the chief minister also advised cool. “Trouble breaks out over elections. Run the elections without losing your cool. Write ‘Be Cool’ on your left hand,” Mamata said.
In the two years that Trinamul has been in power, the party’s student wing has been accused of interfering in the admission process, heckling principals and heads of colleges and intimidating students and members belonging to opposition camps. Even while she spoke, some of her supporters ransacked a college in North Dinajpur’s Itahar and heckled its principal after the lady caught a party leader’s wife cheating during an exam.
“To get attention on television channels, one should not do any thing that will make people think poorly about the organisation and also hurt your teachers,” Mamata said.
The chief minister, who is eyeing a larger role in national politics, asked students to run online campaigns on social networking sites against the Congress-led Centre’s attempts “to sell off the country”.