The Maharashtra Legislature passed the Maharashtra Public Universities Act 2016 earlier this month. This bill reintroduces the concept of student council elections in the state. This decision comes in 22 years after student elections were banned in the state due to instances of violence. With the legislature giving a go ahead for elections, student political wings look all happy and set to contest these elections. Bayside Journal spoke to representatives of student political wings to understand their take on this decision.
Take on the Decision
“We are extremely enthusiastic about these elections,” says Rohit Chandode from the right-wing student organsation Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). “Almost every college in the city has a student unit and our membership has gone up too. Our aim is to help students in the best possible way,” he adds. Varun Sardesai, core committee member of the Yuva Sena, says that the party is completely ready to contest the student council elections. “We believe that students must have their say. Yuva Sena already has units in every college from South Bombay to suburbs. We are the only party that has necessary infrastructure in place and we are very positive about contesting the polls.”
The National Student Union of India (NSUI), student wing of Congress, Maharashtra Navnirman Vidyarthi Sena (MNVS) and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) are also in the favour of this decision. “We have started visiting colleges and university hostels to understand the issues that students are facing,” says Vipin Singh, President of NSUI. Nikhil Chavan, Secretary of BJYM Maharashtra said, “We have already introduced the concept of ‘Sabhas’ (read units) in almost all the colleges and we have plans to launch several more in order to help students in a better way.”.
According to Rohit Chandode, ABVP plans to address problems such as, “Hall-ticket issues during examinations, lack of adequate accommodation for student, and scholarship for students from reserved categories.” “Yuva Sena is waiting to receive clarity over this decision and for guidelines to come from our party President, Aditya Thackeray,” says Varun Sardesai, “We want students to have their say. We are waiting to know how exactly these elections are going to be conducted, how council leaders are going to be empowered and what decisions they will be allowed to take,” he continues.
NSUI too is waiting for further clarity on the bill. “The bill has just been passed. We are certainly taking up several student-related issues. I have had meetings with our party seniors. These elections are going to be crucial, but we are all yet to understand the process of these elections,” says Vipin Singh from NSUI. Talking about various changes they plan to make, he says, “Sanitation facilities in colleges have to be developed; and we will also provide free Wi-Fi in all colleges.”
Nikhil Chavan from BJYM says that they will depend on the Sabhas to support their campaigns in the run-up to these elections. Talking about issues they are planning to address, he says, “We will be working towards making online admissions hassle-free for students. We are also planning to conduct health check-ups for students annually; and look into transportation issues faced by them.” Sudhakar Tambole, Vice President of MNVS says their agenda, too, is much like other parties.
Plans to Keep It Violence Free
While ABVP, BJYM and Yuva Sena believe that student elections would be violence-free, Vipin Singh from NSUI feels that a little violence might take place. “22 years back things were different. The youth today are well aware of the consequences of violence. But with the escalating competition, there are chances that violence might unfold,” he says. “We think that parties should not be allowed in campuses and that might help in preventing violence. The college administration must also be very firm on this,” says Rohit Chandode from ABVP. “We have demanded for Code of Conduct to be implemented to ensure smooth election process. I am glad the government has thought of reintroducing elections,” says Sudhakar from MNVS.