Lucknow/Prayagraj: Allahabad University, which nursed the political instincts of several Indian politicians, including a former President and three former Prime Ministers, has decided not to hold direct student union elections anymore.
Instead, the university will replace the student union with a student council, whose election will mirror the system followed for the Rajya Sabha.
The decision to discontinue the university’s 96-year legacy of student union elections was taken by the university academic council Saturday, with the administration attributing the change to the Lyngdoh committee recommendations for university poll reform.
According to university public relations officer Dr Chitranjan, student union elections have not been banned, “only the mode of election has been changed”.
“Sections 6.1.2 and 6.2.1 of the Lyngdoh committee report clearly recommend that only universities with a small campus and fewer students, like JNU and Hyderabad University, should be allowed to form their student unions via direct elections,” Dr Chitranjan said. According to the recommendations, universities with a large number of students and several campuses must constitute student councils.
“Recommendations of the Lyngdoh Committee, formed by the HRD Ministry in 2006 on the orders of the Supreme Court, have been approved by the top court and it is mandatory for all universities to implement them,” he added.
Under the new system, students will elect class representatives and these class representatives will vote for officebearers of the student council.
The university administration has described this model as more extensive and transparent, saying it will allow students from each faculty, class and section — graduation, post-graduation and PhD — an opportunity to get elected.
At one point of time, Allahabad University was considered the nursery of UP student politics, serving as a stepping stone for the bigger stage for several stalwarts like former President Shankar Dayal Sharma, former Prime Ministers V.P. Singh, Chandrashekhar, and Gulzari Lal Nanda, and former Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand chief minister N.D. Tiwari.
Singh was elected the vice-president of the AU Student Union in 1949. Tiwari served as president of the first AU Student Union formed after Independence.
Former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash Kashyap was elected student union chief in 1948. Other notable alumni of the university include former MP Murli Manohar Joshi, and parliamentarians Rita Bahuguna Joshi and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
The decision has predictably triggered outrage among students. Even as the meet of the executive council was under way, students organised a protest outside the student union office. Police baton-charged the protesters and student union chief Uday Prakash Yadav and general secretary Shivam Singh were arrested. They were released later in the evening.
According to student leaders, the university administration’s decision is “arbitrary”.
Samajwadi Party leader Richa Singh, a former student union president, questioned how many recommendations of the Lyngdoh Committee had been accepted by the university administration.
“The university’s vice-chancellor is facing a probe for serious allegations. The student union was quite vocal on this issue and kept raising its voice against his misdeeds,” she said. “The university administration has taken this decision to stifle this voice. Only those students will find place in the student council who are handpicked by the University administration.
“The student union of this university has provided several visionary leaders to the country but now the administration is trying to muzzle students’ voice,” she added.