Mamata govt to depoliticise students’ unions in Bengal

New move: Mamta government’s proposed move has raised many eyebrows in the State.

New move: Mamta government’s proposed move has raised many eyebrows in the State.

The Trinamool Congress government is all set to issue an order changing the very nature of students’ unions in West Bengal.

Primarily aimed at depoliticising them, the proposed change has raised many eyebrows in the State which has a long history of student politics and produced not only Ministers and MPs, but also Chief Ministers like Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Mamata Banerjee.

States Education Minister Partha Chatterjee told journalists that the system of students’ union elections followed by St Xavier’s College and Lady Brabourne College will be implemented across colleges and universities in the State.

While the State government is yet to come out with a formal notification, details that have come out suggest that a principal or a college teacher will hold the post of students’ union president. Similarly, a college or university teacher will be treasurer of the body, robbing it of any financial freedom.

Other proposals are in consonance with the recommendations of the Lyngdoh Committee, making a certain percentage of attendance necessary for students to contest the polls.

“I think holding elections every year is a waste of energy. I will ask the Education Minister to find out whether the St Xavier’s model can be adopted,” Ms Banerjee had said in an interview with a Bengali television channel in March.

The aim of such a change is to depoliticise students’ unions. It is also aimed at doing away with the embarrassment of the ruling party over large-scale violence during students’ union elections.

“Nothing can be called apolitical and if those above 18 years can exercise their franchise, why can’t they have their elected representatives in colleges and universities,” said Madhuja Sen Roy, president of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI), the students’ wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

Ms. Sen Roy said the notification for changes in students’ union elections has not yet come out and once it is clear what changes have been proposed, the SFI along with other Left and democratic students’ unions will hit the streets in protest. She said it remains unclear whether students’ unions affiliated to political parties will be allowed to contest the polls or not.

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Printable version | Oct 5, 2022 1:16:13 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/mamata-govt-to-depoliticise-students-unions-in-bengal/article18791389.ece