Odisha Student Leaders Protest Moves To Stop Campus Elections; ABVP Hints At Legal Step

Bhubaneswar: Student wings of opposition political parties on Wednesday strongly protested reported moves by the Odisha government against holding annual union election in the current academic year in colleges and universities across the state.

The student leaders demanded immediate steps by the state government to announce the dates for students union elections in colleges and universities.

Lamenting that the Common Academic Calendar for the academic session 2023-24 issued by the Higher Education Department mentions nothing about students’ union election, they threatened to launch an agitation if the campus elections are not held this year.

Campus elections have not taken place in the state since 2018. Prior to that also, college elections were stopped intermittently, they said, demanding that the state government announce the dates for conducting the campus polls.

National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) activists in Bhubaneswar burnt the letter of the High Education department in protest. NSUI, the student wing of Congress, has also warned that it would protest in all the colleges if the students’ union election is stopped.

“Students are being denied their democratic rights. Student representatives are needed to address various issues like shortage of teaching and non-teaching staffers in higher education institutions,” Yashir Nawaz, state president of NSUI, had said.

ABVP state secretary Arijit Patnaik said the government has killed the leadership qualities of the students. There are over 20 lakh youth voters on college campuses and the government fears that they will go against it, he alleged.

ABVP will hit the streets if the campus elections are not held this year, he said, while indicating that the student leaders would move the court for to seek union elections.

State president of All India Students’ Federation (AISF) Sanghamitra Jena said the government wants to cancel the students’ union polls to stop building new leaders because the ruling BJD allegedly has now become a party of ‘bureaucrats’.

On the other hand, Biju Chhatra Janata Dal, the student wing of ruling BJD, claimed that the students are violating the norms set by the Lyngdoh Commission. Therefore, the college polls are put on hold, said BCJD president D R Tripathy.

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