In the results of Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) polls, there is a clear message for the rulers. While poll winners, BJP-backed National Democratic Teachers Front (NDTF) would walk an extra-mile to attribute their landslide victory to the National Education Policy (NEP) of the Narendra Modi government, the fact is otherwise.
NDTF’s presidential candidate AK Bhagi got 52 per cent of the valid votes. Abha Dev Habib, the presidential candidate of the CPM-backed Democratic Teachers Front (DTF) came a distant second polling just 32 per cent of the valid votes. The Congress-aligned Academics for Action and Development (AAD) managed just 12 per cent of the valid votes. In all 7194 votes were polled.
While it can be said that the Left and the Congress managed to hold onto its cadre votes, the BJP backed candidates for the executive panel too registered overwhelming support garnering highest-ever votes for it, with its five candidates figuring in top seven winners. The Left just about managed an ‘unblemished’ record with its fourth candidate crossing the finish line at the last moment. Left is known for proximity with Delhi government.
The biggest embarrassment, however, was not saved for the Congress, whose four of the eight managed to get elected but for the Aam Admi Party (AAP). The teacher’s wing of the ruling party fielded a lone candidate for a position on the 15-member executive panel. He not only lost but was placed second from the last among the 22 candidates. So, it was a complete thump down for the Arvind Kejriwal government for pursuing a policy of persecuting colleges funded by it.
There are 12 colleges in Delhi government funded colleges, which since 2020 are faced with scarcity of funds with the government releasing salaries six-months late. It has withdrawn funds for the maintenance of the colleges and the medical and other sundry bills of the college teachers and staff are lying unpaid for almost a year now.
One of the first challenges for the new president of the DUTA and his team would be to restore pay-parity among the teachers and staff of the differently-funded colleges. He should not give in to the tactics of the Delhi government and glib talk of the Union Education Ministry’s bureaucrats. If the government continues to work the way it has done in the past three years, DUTA president AK Bhagi should work on a plan for the Centre’s take over.
It would have by now rubbed on the BJP-backed panel that their landslide victory has largely been on the account of the teachers from 12 Delhi government colleges turning out in large numbers and voting en bloc for the takeover of the colleges by the Centre. It’s a responsibility which even the Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan cannot shirk off.
He could take a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pragmatism in withdrawing the farm laws. As for the farmers it was a question of survival, so it’s for the teachers. These colleges have faced the brunt from the Delhi government but fact also remains that the situation has arisen because Delhi University in past six years has remained completely leaderless and rudderless.
The university now has a new Vice Chancellor in Prof Yogesh Singh. One doesn’t see a reason for friction between the Vice Chancellor and new DUTA leadership as both are committed to the implementation of the National Education Policy 2020. Since these 12 colleges are constituent colleges of Delhi University in the national capital, it’s the university’s responsibility to aid and assure their funding and correct any anomaly which would have arisen in the past under whatever circumstances.
Author and president, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice