With the new Maharashtra Public Universities’ Act, 2016, coming into force from March 1, one of the biggest debate points at the moment is the return of student elections in the state. Many academicians find the prospect worrying, given the chequered history of student elections, and the recent clash between two student groups at the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU).
The discussion on student elections, restricted only to academic circles earlier, has now become common among students, who are worried about the repercussions of the decision. SPPU Registrar Narendra Kadu has started receiving letters from students — who are neither affiliated to an union nor to a political party’s youth wing — requesting that such elections should not be held.
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One of the letters sent to the registrar refers to the incident on SPPU campus a few days ago, when two youth wing student organisations clashed with each other after an argument broke out about some posters being put up by one of them. Both filed police complaints against the other and a few people were arrested in connection with the clash. Police personnel were deployed on campus, where the atmosphere remained tense for days.
In their letter, the students said the incident has tarnished the varsity’s reputation and such incidents would become common if student elections were held in universities in the state. Such cases vitiated the campus atmosphere, said the students in their letter.
SPPU Registrar Narendra Kadu, who confirmed receiving such letters, said students were expressing their views “frankly”.
“However, the Act has provided for student elections and hence there can be no discussion on it. Whether any amendment takes place later… we will wait and watch…,” he said.