The Telegraph
Saturday , April 19 , 2014
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Favourite poll pledge: ISM upgrade

Indian School of Mines (ISM) had never felt this important, not even at the height of protests in favour of an IIT status.

The premier mining cradle, seeking an IIT tag for years now, is featuring in the election promises of almost all the six main candidates from Dhanbad constituency. And yes, it happened much before a certain Narendra Modi visited Dhanbad and spoke about converting it into an IIT.

Apart from the IIT carrot, a separate university in the coal capital and postgraduate studies in all constituent colleges feature among the other offerings from the MP hopefuls.

While sitting MP and BJP candidate P.N. Singh has already secured an edge on the ISM issue, thanks to the support pledged by his party’s prime ministerial nominee Modi and president Rajnath Singh during their respective rallies in Dhanbad, his rivals have also made quality education their main poll planks.

A large billboard put up by the MCC for its candidate Anand Mahto near PK Roy Memorial College on NH-32 promises an IIT status for ISM and a separate university for Dhanbad.

“We don’t believe in mere talk and have raised the issue of establishment of a separate university through our party’s Nirsa MLA (Arup Chatterjee) before the government on several occasions. If that is not immediately possible, we will suggest the government to at least ensure postgraduate teaching in all seven constituent degree colleges of Dhanbad,” said Mahto, the three-time Sindri MLA.

If Mahto indeed has its way, the campuses that will benefit are PK Roy Memorial College, RSP College, SSLNT Women’s College, BSK College, RS More College, Sindri College and Katras College.

The MCC candidate from Dhanbad pointed out that due to limited seats in postgraduate courses in Dhanbad, students had to rush to distant Hazaribagh to pursue higher studies at Vinoba Bhave University.

With Modi taking away the wind from Congress’s sails by declaring that the ISM would be converted into an IIT if the BJP came to power at the Centre, Congress candidate Ajay Dubey tried his best to remind all that the actual credit for the issue going to the national stage should go to his party.

“It’s because of the initiatives taken by our party vice-president Rahul Gandhi that an expert committee constituted by the IIT council visited ISM recently to discuss the upgrade issue,” he said.

It cannot be denied that Dubey had played a crucial role in arranging a meeting between ISM students and Rahul in Delhi last September. After that meeting, Rahul visited the Dhanbad campus on November 14 last year and supported the demand for an IIT status.

Not to be left behind, JVM’s Samresh Singh touted himself as a greater champion of educational causes of Dhanbad.

“We had raised the demand of a separate university in Dhanbad and also held a halla bol campaign at the district headquarters of Dhanbad and Bokaro. I will continue to put pressure on the government if I am elected as an MP,” declared the maverick Bokaro MLA.

Being an academic herself, it’s natural for Ajsu’s Hemlata S. Mohan to bat for quality education.

And it’s anybody’s guess that she is rooting for an IIT status for ISM as well.

“Getting an IIT tag for ISM will be my first priority if I get elected from Dhanbad. The mining institute has all necessary infrastructure and meets all criteria to be called an IIT,” said the former principal-cum-adviser of Delhi Public School, Dhanbad.

Other candidates like Chandra Shekhar Dubey of Trinamul Congress are also seeking votes on the education plank, promising to gift a separate university in Dhanbad if voted to power.