A student drops her vote into a makeshift ballot box on the last day of the referendum at Presidency University. Picture by Anup Bhattacharya
The students’ referendum at Presidency on whether Sugata Bose should continue as the institution’s mentor after accepting Trinamul’s Lok Sabha ticket has almost matched the turnout in the last union elections.
The number of voters — 1,534 out of 2,135 students — at the end of the second day of the referendum was only 151 short of the number recorded in the student union polls last month.
The students had been asked to vote for or against Bose, Gardiner professor of oceanic history at Harvard, remaining the head of the mentor group and member of the governing council after being nominated for the Jadavpur Lok Sabha seat.
The outcome of the vote won’t be known until Friday afternoon, but the shared enthusiasm of rival campus camps in the referendum was there for all to see on Thursday.
The scramble for numbers on the last lap of voting — the percentage worked out to 71.85 — even blurred differences. “The turnout from the geology masters’ programme is thin. You know all of them in the department. Please get the students to vote before time runs out,” a leader of the Independents’ Consolidation, which runs the union, told an SFI counterpart.
A random scrutiny of the electoral rolls around 4pm, three hours before the official close of the referendum, had shown that the geology and botany departments were lagging in terms of participation. The SFI, known to have a strong support base in the two departments, immediately got to work.
“Play cricket later. Come to the booth now,” a polling agent was overheard telling a group of students.
An SFI leader said his group did not mind working with the Independents’ Consolidation because “we are on the same page regarding the need for a referendum”.
The 1,534 votes cast over two days will be counted around 1pm before the media to prove that the referendum wasn’t rigged. “Since university officials have not been engaged to oversee the referendum, we are seeking the media’s presence to prove that the process has not been fudged,” union vice-president Amardip Singh said.
A copy each of the vote outcome will be sent to vice-chancellor Malabika Sarkar, education minister Bratya Basu and governor M.K. Narayanan.