Students with academic arrears (backlogs in clearing subjects) or aged above 25 will not be eligible to contest the much-awaited students' council elections that are making a comeback after 25 years. The draft of the statutes formulated for conducting elections are almost ready and authorities are keen on early implementation.
Even as a uniform policy for conducting elections across public universities is being framed in the state for the first time, and recommendations from 2006's Lyngdoh committee and another state-level committee led by former vice-chancellor Rajan Welukar have been taken into consideration while drafting the rules.
About five eligibility criteria for contestants have been laid down; an official from the higher and technical education department said attendance of 75%, as prescribed by the committee, will not be included in the state's draft. “Elections are likely to be conducted in August, a month after the academic session commences. There is no point in considering attendance of the previous year. We will, however, ensure that candidates have some academic calibre, by not allowing students with a backlog to contest,“ said the official. The upper age limit is to accommodate post-graduate students.
College-level elections to elect four representatives on the council will be wrapped up within 10 days to avoid extensive campaigning, said the official. “Within 8-10 days of candidates filing nomination forms, elections will be held. It will be simultaneously held across colleges affiliated to the university,“ he added. The four representatives from each college will then elect four representatives to the university's students' council. While elections at the university level will be elaborate and will permit campaigning, care has been taken to prevent outsiders. “A strict code of conduct will be imposed,“ said the official. Four posts, including president, secretary, a representative from the reserved category and a women's representative, will be included in the council.
While the statues are aimed at keeping political parties away from campus elections, most student organisations have been preparing their candidates in the last one year. Rohit Chandode, Mumbai secretary of ABVP, said rules not having outsiders will affect organisations that do not have students as members. “We have been working for one year and we have about 32,000 active members in Mumbai's colleges and 1.5 lakh members in the state,“ he said, claiming they are apolitical.“We are like watchdogs on campuses,“ he said. They have about 88 college units now.
Parag Alavani, from BJP, who was booked in the Owen D'Souza murder case and was later acquitted, said campus violence was a reflection of society in the late 1980s. “The city was ruled by gangsters. We do not hear about violence now, therefore it is not necessary that students' elections will give rise to violence. Violence can be avoided by bringing in political reforms,“ said Alavani. He added that there used to be an age criteria and candidates had to be regular students backlogs and attendance were no criteria.
But a principal said, “Most campuses are strictly apolitical. The comeback of polls will promote political agenda in education spaces.Parties are bound to find loopholes in statutes to circumvent the law.“