Bhubaneswar: Cancellation of student elections by the state government has drawn the expected flak from the young blood. Though many of them have expressed their resentment and frustration over the move in different ways, their common feelings can be summed up in one word: Suppression. The voice that resonates on the cancellation of college student elections by the government is:
Naimisha Aranya, a student: By cancelling the elections in the name of ‘safety and violence,’ you are only teaching the students to give up and stay in fear. Fighting the polls is the only way to establish a cleaner and safer system. Why is Chatra BJD silent now? Where are the most vocal leaders who believed in student activism? The fact is that, there is rift within the BCJD. On every campus, there are two or more groups of BCJD. If student union elections take place, there will be an internal clash between the 111 MLAs. So they cancelled the elections. But in my point of view, this decision will teach a lesson to the students and youths of Odisha, and now they will know the originality and guts of the ruling party of Odisha.
Ashutosh Patra, former athletic secretary of Ravenshaw University: Students’ elected candidates become voice of the students in talks with the administration. During my stint as athletic secretary, I was able to bring some infrastructure in the sports department and had bought sports equipment for the budding players of the college.
A day after the Higher Education department of Odisha decided to cancel student union elections in colleges and universities across the state, various student unions vehemently opposed the decision and staged protests Friday. Many blamed Higher Education Minister Arun Sahoo for the decision.
In protest against the decision, the ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) gheraoed the residence of Sahoo Friday. A scuffle broke out between police and agitators. The members of ABVP alleged that it is a planned strategy of Odisha government to stifle the voice of the students.
As per reports, more than 50 ABVP student protesters have been detained by police. “Minister Arun Sahoo himself was a student leader. Now, he is opposing the same. Who gave him the right to snatch away the rights of students?” said a protester.
ABVP coordinator, Sanjay Mallick, said, “We strongly oppose the decision to cancel student elections in the state. They should reconsider it after holding a meeting.” It is the failure of the government and the administration if they don’t have capacity to conduct student union elections. It is very much necessary that elections should be held, Sashikanta Mishra, secretary of ABVP Odisha, said.
Priyanka Priyadarshnee, another student, said the cancellation of student elections is like snatching away their rights. Yes, I will agree the process is taking a violent turn in many places but cancelling it won’t solve anything. Students should not be taken away from their rights or the platform they have to keep their views. If authorities want to do something then try to minimise the side effects of it rather than banning it.
The National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) raised questions about the decision saying while polls are being conducted in other states, why stop them here. “This will stop good student leaders from joining state politics in the future. If in other states, the polls are being conducted why not in Odisha? Why can’t police provide protection during elections and prevent violence?” said NSUI coordinator, Itish Pradhan.
On the other hand, students’ wing of ruling BJD and educational experts have welcomed the decision. Educationist Ranjan Mullick said that how many of student leaders have become clean political leaders of the state and how many of former presidents of colleges and varsities have climbed the political ladder.
“We are happy and completely support the decision and in future we want the government to go for an alternative,” said Rajesh Swain, vice-president of Biju Chhatra Janata Dal.
Meanwhile, many even supported the decision saying that election is just a means for the political parties to collect money and funds to celebrate festivals.