PUSU Elections: Patna’s Students Rebuff Nitish’s Government

Students’ Union elections in Patna University were finally held after a gap of 28 years, thanks to unyielding struggle of generations of students. Although the election was conducted on the lines of Lyngdoh Committee recommendations – whose basic character is undemocratic and intended for election of a pliant students’ union – what happened at least is that the inertia ruling the campus is now overcome and the students have achieved a formal broader platform.

The student body affiliated to Nitish’s JD(U) and its politics has been jolted by the students, and the Left which did not win seats in the last Assembly election, has received significant votes. Is this leftist inclination of the students in Patna any pointer to possibilities of latent change in coming days in the politics of Bihar? Only time will tell, but what is evident from the result is that the students have lost faith in the current Government and have once again highlighted Bihar’s identity of struggle.

Seven years of Nitish rule have been seven years of betrayal to interests of students and youth. During these seven years the students and youth of Bihar had to leave the State in ever more rising numbers in search of livelihood, to be hounded by MNS in Maharashtra or forced to survive on a pitifully small monthly salary. Nitish Kumar during his vikas yatra faced angry and often militant protests by the teachers and para-teachers. Educational standards have sunk to new lows, and the condition of universities have further deteriorated. More than fifty percent of the teaching and non-teaching posts are vacant and not being filled, basic structure has collapsed, girls don’t feel safe and the students from dalit and minority community are becoming victims of all sorts of exploitation whether in the campus or in their villages. In the just concluded election these issues became the prominent issues due to which students did not buy the arguments of JD(U)’s student wing.

The students have shown more faith in the Left’s students’ organisations known for their uncompromising struggle on issues of campus, education, employment and youth. In terms of votes AISA and AISF got the highest number of votes put together. AISA got a little more than 4700 votes on 4 central panel posts, however, on the President’s post its candidate Divya Gautam lost to the ABVP candidate only by a margin of 168 votes. The openly biased actions of the Bihar Administration played a clear role in this. She received 1728 votes, while the ABVP’s winning candidate got 1896 votes. On the Secretary post too AISA’s candidate was second but gave a tough competition to JD(U)’s winning candidate. AISF got around 6000 votes on the 5 central panel posts it contested and it won the General Secretary, Vice President and a few councillor seats.

ABVP, part of the ruling alliance, polled 5500 votes on the five central panel posts, and somehow it managed to win the President’s post. JD(U) lagged far behind in terms of number of votes and could win only Secretary’s post. RJD, currently facing disintegration in Bihar, could win only the post of Treasurer. AIDSO, another Left students’ organisation, was successful in wining a few of the councillor seats. Other organisations like NSUI, CLJP etc. did not achieve anything notable. In terms of average of votes polled for central panel AISF got 1200, AISA – 1150 and ABVP – 1100. All the student organisations contested the election independently.

Some colleges of the Patna University which have been centres of BJP’s politics shed all democratic norms to defeat the AISA’s candidate on President post. Establishment forces also applied whatever strength it could to ensure AISA was defeated. The Principal of Magadh Women’s College, one Dolly Sinha, and a teacher Suhaili Mehta, shamelessly organised bogus voting in favour of ABVP candidate who is the son of a local BJP MLA Arun Kumar. They promised the women students 4 ‘attendances’ in return for voting for the ABVP candidate! After a protest Suhaili Sinha was removed from the College but she was still kept associated with the election work elsewhere. Whereas, in places like Patna College, BN College, Science College, Darbhanga House, AISA maintained its lead over ABVP and gained significantly in these colleges over ABVP. Despite numerous enticements and ploys by pro-BJP teachers, the AISA candidate polled a good number of votes in Magadh Women’s College and Patna Women’s College.

AISA has garnered votes from Muslim-Dalit students as well as from a good number of women students apart from the votes of its own members. Rising incidents of gang rapes of women and girls, eve-teasing, their insecurity in campuses etc. emerged as prominent issues, owing to which these sections mobilised in favour of AISA.

Howsoever the Nitish Govt trumpets its (false) record in development of Bihar, its gains have begun to erode. The student-youth have figured out the real character of the Govt and have rejected its plank. In the coming days let’s like the students who have taken a turn for change, the whole of Bihar keeps to the Left side of the road!


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