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Trinamul campus surge in north
4 in Malda, 3 in Siliguri kitty

Jan. 27: Trinamul’s student body emerged the key gainer in college elections today in Malda, where violence marred elections in two institutions, and in Siliguri.

After the late-night result from Kaliachak Sultanganj, Trinamul Chhatra Parishad had with it four college unions in Malda district where it had none in 2012.

In three of the colleges — Malda College, Malda Women’s College and Gour College — Trinamul was uncontested. Its rivals — the CPM-backed SFI and the Congress’s Chhatra Parishad — alleged their candidates were not allowed to file nominations.

The union in Gour College was with the Chhatra Parishad, while Malda College and Malda Women’s College had SFI unions earlier.

Violence marred polls in Malda’s Chanchal College, too, which was earlier with the Chhatra Parishad. Polling was stopped in the morning after a section of students and outsiders vandalised two ballot boxes and classrooms where voting was being held.

Chhatra Parishad alleged that Trinamul, sensing that it would not win the elections, resorted to vandalism.

In four colleges in Siliguri where elections were held today, Trinamul won three. The SFI retained Siliguri Women’s College.

Of the colleges that Trinamul won, it previously had a union in one — Surya Sen College. Siliguri Government Polytechnic was with the Chhatra Parishad but went to Trinamul uncontested. In Siliguri College, where the SFI had won last time, Trinamul won 48 of the 49 seats.

If the Chhatra Parishad loses the elections in Siliguri College of Commerce tomorrow, it will not have a union in any of the colleges in the town.

In Malda’s Kaliachak Sultanganj College, a Congress gram panchayat pradhan suffered a bullet injury. In Kaliachak, more than 500 students carrying banners of the Trinamul Chhatra Parishad, Chhatra Parishad and the SFI were outside the college gates, near NH34, around 1pm when bombs were hurled and shooting started, police said.

It is not clear who fired or hurled the bombs. “We chased the crowd away. Voting was not affected,” said a police source. The police said Jamil Sheikh, 45, the Congress pradhan of Kaliachak-I gram panchayat, was injured when a bullet shot past the lobe of his right ear, the police said.

Elections were last held in these colleges in 2012.

The state government had pressed the pause button on college elections after a police constable in Garden Reach College, Calcutta, died in campus poll violence last February. The government stopped elections for around six months and vowed to clean up the system by incorporating the Lyngdoh commission suggestions that focused on depoliticisation and recognition of merit.

Although the state higher education council had prepared a code of conduct based on the commission’s recommendations, it was not implemented when the state allowed polls last September.

Kaliachak Sultanganj College, about 30km from Malda town, has 18 seats and the union was with the SFI earlier. But the results today showed the Trinamul Chhatra Parishad had bagged 12 of the 18 seats. The Chhatra Parishad got six.

In Chanchal College, 70km from here, trouble started around 9am after voting began. Chhatra Parishad members alleged that some Trinamul Chhatra Parishad supporters snatched two ballot boxes and smashed them outside the college gate. Some Trinamul supporters also broke furniture in the polling rooms. A clash followed between the two outfits and police force on the campus baton-charged the students.

Polling was stopped. “Our candidates had won uncontested four of the 26 seats and TMCP has sensed that they would not be able to capture the union. That is why they ensured that the voting was scuttled. The police beat up our supporters when we protested,” said outgoing Chhatra Parishad general secretary Sumit Sarkar.

“Two ballot boxes were smashed and the election was stopped. Six policemen were injured in stone-throwing and we had to conduct a mild baton-charge. No students were injured,” district police chief Kalyan Mukherjee said.

Prasenjit Das, the Trinamul Chhatra Parishad’s Malda president, blamed the Congress and the SFI, saying the two outfits “connived” to stop Trinamul from winning. The repolling date has not been announced.

The SFI retained Malda’s Pakua College and Chhatra Parishad kept Kaliachak South Malda College.