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CU move stokes violence fear

Calcutta University will not be able to introduce online submission of nomination forms in the upcoming students’ union election, a measure that had been suggested in an advisory issued by the state government in September to reduce chances of violence surrounding campus polls.

The university at its syndicate meeting on Friday decided that although candidates would be able to download nomination forms online, they would have to visit the campus to submit them.

The higher education department had on September 25 issued an advisory asking colleges and universities to take a series of steps to ensure peaceful polling. The advisory suggested innovations such as acceptance of nomination forms online, “subject to practicability and the rules and regulations”.

Sources said the suggestion had been prompted by the February 12 violence outside Harimohan Ghose College in Garden Reach. Sub-inspector Tapas Chowdhury was shot down outside the college following a dispute over filing of nomination.

The higher education department issued a circular six days later, asking all colleges and universities to put on hold union elections till further orders. The bar was lifted in September.

This was not the only instance of bloodshed over filing of nomination. In December 2010, 22-year-old Swapan Koley, an SFI supporter and student of Andul College, was killed allegedly by Trinamul supporters while he was on his way to the institution to file nomination.

Till 2011, when the SFI would win the 650 seats spread across six CU campuses uncontested, the Trinamul Congress Chhatra Parishad would allege that its candidates were not being allowed to file nomination by the students’ wing of the then ruling party.

Chances of CU taking effective measures to curb such instances faded when vice-chancellor Suranjan Das said the university would seek nominations offline. “Next year we won’t be able to introduce online submission of nomination forms because of lack of preparations. In elections to be held subsequently we will go online,” said Das.

Presidency University will accept nomination both online and offline to minimise chances of violence.

Das admitted that online filing of nomination was the most effective way to curb violence and said they have asked the department heads to monitor filing of nominations to ensure peaceful polls.

But a CU official dubbed the move flawed. “The problem starts outside the campus, rather on the way to the campus. It often happens that the student union backed by the ruling party intimidates or beats up rivals so they can’t reach the campus and file nomination. Online submission could have successfully tackled the problem,” said the official.

CU also made it clear that it would not follow the Lyngdoh committee recommendation that students with below 75 per cent attendance be barred from contesting the poll.

The vice-chancellor said students with minimum 55 per cent attendance would be allowed to cast vote or become a candidate.