College principals concerned about security during polls

Pranita Roy
Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Although the State historically had peaceful students union elections barring a few incidents in the 1980s and 1990s, the students elections are back in the State after a hiatus of nearly 24 years. Sakal Times in a two-part series tries to understand the views and opinions of students, teachers and other stakeholders.

PUNE: Although the students’ election statute has highlighted that none of the groups would indulge in any activity which can aggravate differences or create rivalry or hatred among students, however, in the wake of misconducts during students’ election in the past, principals of colleges in Pune district have raised concerns over its conduct and security. 

They have also stated that considering the past record of crime attached to students’ elections and the aggression in which they were conducted, there are chances that sanctity of educational institutes may get affected.

“Social media is one of the strongest influencers and today, campaigning takes place there. There are chances of misconceptions and misunderstandings to come to the surface due to aggressive campaigns. Also, even though the statute has mentioned there should be no political interference in student union campaigns, it is difficult to view the elections free of any political indulgence. It might unnecessarily create differences among students based on caste and group divisions and ideologies,” said Sanjay Chakane, Principal of Arts, Commerce and Science College, Indapur, Pune district.

“Nevertheless, we can say we are ready to hold students’ election as the State government has issued guidelines and statute on it. But we are not ready for the responsibility,” Chakane added.

“Therefore, it is advisable that if a government agency is deployed for the smooth conduct of these elections, wherein district collector or tehsildar is deployed to supervise it, it will be a good move,” Chakane further added.

“Due to a few serious issues during last students’ elections, the event was banned from Maharashtra. There will be several discussions and workshops on the election, but security will remain the primary concern during the entire course. The college administration needs to be very strong to conduct the event,” said KC Mohite, Principal of CT Bora College, Shirur, Pune district.

“If the statute has mentioned about no political interference then the college will strictly not allow any political agendas or slogans to float in, but we won’t be able to comprehend who is promoting what kind of agenda internally, therefore, security is a major factor here,” said Mohite.

However, Dilip Sheth, Principal of Sir Parashurambhau (SP) College differed, stating that if all the guidelines provided in the Maharashtra Public Universities (Procedure for Election, Authority for Conduct of Election, Mechanism for Conduct of Such Elections, Code of Conduct for Candidates and Election Administrators, and Grievances Redressal Mechanism in Respect of Election to Students’ Council) Order, 2018, are followed then there are less chances of any kind of mishaps or untoward incidents to happen. 

CN Rawal, Principal of Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce (BMCC) emphasised on educating students about the election. “It will be too premature to estimate the consequences of the elections. But it is essential to create awareness about elections and its process among students. Students have to be educated about the process of election, casting vote in a fair manner, choosing an appropriate candidate and his/her agenda,” he said. 

“We are waiting for the documents which indicate the programme of the election so that we understand that on the grassroot level how it will be held and whether there will be officers or independent machinery or university will depute personnel to monitor the process with the help of college,” added Rawal.

“Some college principals have raised concern related to conduction of the election, security measures and arrangements for it. We will consider these worries and accordingly take up measures to avoid any kind of untoward incidents while the elections are held,” said Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) Dean of Students’ Welfare Prabhakar Desai.

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