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Poll prod to varsities

The state government has asked the universities to start preparing for student union elections so they can be completed by January 31.

It also wants colleges affiliated to a university to conduct single-day polls.

An advisory issued on November 18 states that some of the universities are yet to start preparatory work, such as setting up the election committee, for smooth, peaceful and timely polls.

Each university is required to set up an election committee headed by the vice-chancellor, and comprising key election officials of the university and the affiliated colleges.

The advisory issued by the higher education department states: “It is learnt that some universities have not initiated any planning exercise in this regard so far. Planning and co-ordination is of utmost importance, especially in view of the fact that the higher education institutions have different codes for conduct of elections….”

The advisory further states: “Hence, if the elections to all higher education institutions under a university are required to be held in a single day as far as practicable and in close consultation with the law and order authorities, advance planning assumes critical importance.”

The department had in September issued an advisory on resumption of student union elections, which the government had stayed in February following a series of campus violence.

A senior official in the higher education department said the fresh advisory was aimed at prodding the universities, especially affiliating ones, to start preparations for the elections.

“We want to complete the elections by January 31 as major public examinations such as Madhyamik, which require large-scale deployment of the police, would start from mid-February,” the official said.

“If the campus elections are held in February there would be inadequate police deployment, increasing chances of violence,” the official added.

The government does not want the polls to be deferred till March and April as the Plus-II and various entrance exams, such as the JEE, are scheduled then.

“If the campus polls are to be wrapped up by January 31, the universities should have activated the election committees and announced the schedule by now. But Calcutta University, West Bengal State University (Barasat) and some other affiliating universities are yet to kickstart the process,” the official added.

Calcutta University vice-chancellor Suranjan Das said the authorities were determined to complete the elections by January 31 and a meeting has been called next week to work out the poll modalities.

“We have formed two committees for supervising the polls at the affiliated colleges and on the university campuses. The committees will meet on November 25 to finalise the details,” said Das.

A CU official, however, made it clear that election at all 137 affiliated colleges can’t be held on a single day as the campuses are spread over four districts — Calcutta, Howrah, Hooghly and South 24-Parganas.