CHENNAI: Not just the Assembly and parliamentary polls, even the elections to student unions in universities may soon have the NOTA (None of the Above), if the varsities follow the recent direction from the University Grants Commission (UGC).
In a letter to Vice-Chancellors of all universities last Thursday (July 14), UGC secretary Jaspal S Sandhu requested the universities to ensure strict compliance with the Supreme Court order on the recommendations made by the Lyngdoh committee while conducting student elections.
“The Commission has received references from student unions seeking inclusion of NOTA in the voting system for election of students’ unions. The universities may consider inclusion of NOTA option in the electoral voting machines and ballot papers to ensure free and fair elections,” the letter read. Inclusion of NOTA is among many recommendations suggested by the Lyngdoh committee in its report in May 2006 based on which the Supreme Court passed an order.
The recent call by the UGC to implement NOTA, however, is irrelevant as far as Tamil Nadu is concerned, feel experts. “Student union elections are non-existent in the state, except in a few colleges where they appoint student representatives. Wherever elections were held in the past, violence unfolded and elections were gradually scrapped,” said former University of Madras Vice-Chancellor G Thiruvasagam.
Protests by students on college campuses demanding that the management conduct elections have become a regular affair in the city. “First, let the UGC intervene and ensure that elections are being held. The question of implementing NOTA comes after that,” said Y Jai Singh, a former student of Presidency College who was a candidate for a student body election in 2014. The election didn’t materialise.
Presidency was the exception where elections were held till 2014. Otherwise, a few other colleges in Tamil Nadu entertain elections. “Until 2008, the Manonmaniam Sundaranar University (MSU) had student body elections. After that there have been very few instances,” Students Federation of India (SFI) joint secretary G Niruban said.