BENGALURU: Electioneering will be back on college and university campuses after 28 long years. The higher education department has decided to re-introduce student elections on campuses of higher education institutions from the coming academic year.
Considering the demand from students and suggestions from some senior political leaders, the department decided to re-introduce student elections. According to senior officials in the department, the issue will be discussed with Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy on November 28 in Mysuru where vice-chancellors of all state universities will be present.
Higher education minister G T Devegowda said on Tuesday, “There is a need to encourage youngsters to develop positive leadership qualities. With that in mind, I have expressed my support to re-introduce student elections in campuses.”
Karnataka had banned student union elections on campuses following a court order in 1989-1990, which held such unions to be responsible for caste-based violence on campuses of educational institutions. Now, more than two-and-a-half decades later, the government has decided to bring back “netagiri” on college campuses.
Higher education minister G T Devegowda said re-introduction of student union elections will be done in a positive manner.“Re-introduction of student elections does not mean we are encouraging violence, caste politics and such things on campuses. We are going to hold it in a very positive and systematic manner wherein there will be clear-cut guidelines,”he said.
The Karnataka State Universities Act (2000) review commission, headed by Prof N R Shetty, also recommended re-introduction of campus elections. Even the student unions in the state and senior political leaders — including Deputy CM
G Parameshwara — have made public statements supporting student elections on campuses.Manjunath Gowda H S, president, National Student Union of India (NSUI), said, “We have been requesting the government since five years for this. If there are no elections on campuses you will not get new, young leaders. Getting elected on campuses is not merely for entry into politics. There is a need for leaders in every profession. We will also meet the Chief Minister about it soon and submit our representation.”
Harsha Narayana, state secretary, Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarti Parishad (ABVP), said, “Even we have submitted requests to the higher education department, and also to the previous government requesting them to re-introduce student elections.”
Almost all the state universities conduct students’ union elections. Different varsities have different eligibility criteria for students to contest in elections. But in most of the universities there, only those studying in final-year course are eligible to contest for the post of president. After the nominations are scrutinised, universities give time of two weeks to contestants for campaigning and they are allowed to visit classrooms for campaigning.
Elections in universities and colleges were banned by the then chief minister Sharad Pawar 20 years ago, following violent incidents of crime involving criminal gangs. A student was murdered during the elections two decades ago. After the elections were banned, colleges and varsities started selecting student representatives and only toppers in academic exams are eligible to become student representatives.
Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) election is a much-hyped event among universities. Thousands of students are actively engaged in elections. DU has framed stringent rules to conduct the elections smoothly. Students contesting in elections are not allowed to enter any college or hostel premises for campaigning without proper identification. They have to compulsorily carry identity slip issued by Chief Election Officer. Supporters of candidates who are not members of DUSU are not allowed to enter educational institutions for canvassing. Candidates can enter colleges to address the students only on the time given by the principals.