Assembly polls: State defers campus elections

Cabinet amends Maharashtra Public Universities Act

The Maharashtra government has deferred campus elections in the State citing a law and order situation in the run-up to the Assembly elections. The government had decided to hold campus elections nearly 25 years after they were last held in colleges across the State, but the Maharashtra Police have given a less-than-favourable report on the possibility of holding the polls in September, said Higher and Technical Education Minister Vinod Tawde.

The Cabinet on Wednesday amended the Maharashtra Public Universities Act 2016 to include provisions which would allow the government to push forward elections in case of a law and order emergency or calamity and natural disaster. The government has already deployed as many as six companies of Central Reserve Police Force in Jammu and Kashmir by pulling them out of Naxal-hit regions.

The Hindu had reported earlier this week that in a letter to the Maharashtra Cabinet, senior security officials had said there is a shortage of troops due to the ongoing situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the forthcoming Assembly elections in October. Mr. Tawde said some chancellors and senior police officials have provided inputs suggesting holding elections would not be possible when the code of conduct was in place for the Assembly polls. Thereafter, the inputs were forwarded to the Maharashtra Home Department, which has done its own assessment of the emerging scenario. “I want to ensure students the elections are not being cancelled but only deferred. The police manpower and machinery will be busy in the Assembly polls and it will be impossible for them to make arrangements for the student polls,” said Mr. Tawde on the Cabinet decision.

The latest amendments have been forwarded to the Governor and he is likely to give his assent at the earliest. Once the Governor signs the amendment, the State government will release a new date for the campus elections, Mr. Tawde said. The elections were deferred last year as well, but Mr. Tawde clarified it was because of a delay in planning of the polling schedule. “The statute itself was not ready last year, but our government has ensured it is prepared in less than a year. We are in favour of the elections since it will help determine evolved voters and candidates across the State. We assure that we will hold them after the Assembly elections,” said Mr. Tawde. University elections in the State were banned in 1993 following the murder of a law student in 1989. Under the new norms passed earlier this year, the government has barred candidates from political parties from contesting or using any symbol, officials said.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 2:03:52 AM |

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