People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 35

August 29, 2004

     SFI Sweeps Himachal University Polls

 Tikender Singh Panwar


The Students Federation of India (SFI) has swept the Himachal Pradesh University (HPU) elections by winning all the four main posts by a  huge margin, humbling the  unholy nexus of the Vice-Chancellor ( university administration), the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the National Students Union of India (NSUI).


In the elections to the Students Central Association held on August 23, the SFI also bagged the posts of 23 departmental representatives (DRs) out of  a total of 34. 


Bhupinder Bhuppi of the Department of Law won the post of president by a margin of 261 votes . The lone girl candidate Nivriti Mohan from the Department of Journalism was elected vice-president by a margin of 258 votes.  Neeraj Vasu, again from the Department of Journalism, was elected Secretary by a margin of  19 votes. Prashant of the Department of Business Administration was elected joint secretary, his victory margin being 310 votes.  All of them beat their nearest ABVP rivals. The NSUI finished a poor third.


As for DRs, the SFI won five out of six seats in the Department of Laws, both seats in the Faculty of Management studies and 14 out of 16 in the Faculty of Arts.




The successive governments in the state have been unleashing all sorts of moves to scuttle democracy on the campuses in Himachal Pradesh. Earlier in 1983, the then Congress government  had snatched the right of the research scholars to vote.. Since then,  it is only the post graduate students who can vote . Elections were also banned several times on one pretext or the other. They were restored in 2000 but with limited democracy. The constitution was changed in such a manner that the period of debate, discussion and campaign was reduced to only a few days. For example, the elections this year were declared on  August 19,  nominations could be filed till August 21 while the date of  elections was August  23.


 Secondly, the candidate  elected once to any of the posts is not eligible to contest again for any of the posts. The limited democracy was directed at squeezing the right of the students community. Despite all such odds, the students have overwhelmingly voted in favour of the forces fighting against these policies.




Both local as well as state level issues dominated the campaign this time. The SFI vigourously campaigned against the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) recently signed by the Congress-led state government with the Centre as per the dictats of the International Monetary Fund. The MOU stipulates, among other things,  that government jobs will have to be reduced by two per cent annually and more than 35 per cent posts lying vacant in various departments would be abolished. higher education subsidy would be reduced and agriculture user charges would be added in service charges  and so on. This will be applicable from  August 31 this year and only then the state would get a grant of Rs 537 crore.  The SFI printed  40,000 leaflets and brought to light the harmful effects of the MOU. The NSUI came in its support. The ABVP  opposed but clandestinely lent its support as the MOU was brought in the Vidhan Sabha by the previous BJP government.


The other issues that were highlighted included exorbitantly high fee hike , gender sensitization The gender sensitisation issue was also highlighted in a planned manner. Just recently, an incident of throwing acid on the face of a girl student who was studying in a local girl’s college took place.  The SFI took to the streets and campaigned for the arrest of the culprits and for forming gender sensitization committees. On the issue of fee hike as well, the SFI was on the path of struggle.


The pattern of voting while clearly showing that SFI is way ahead of ABVP in panel vote, also gives dangerous signal as in the era of liberalisation,  depoliticisation is also taking place and personalities as against  issues and ideology have started dominating the scene. The SFI has to take steps to rectify it and has to sharpen its ideological struggle. Above all, since the polarisation taken place in between the SFI and others, both the ABVP and NSUI had made it a friendly contest by mutually shifting their votes in the  local colleges of Shimla town.


In the state, as well, the SFI has stood first in Shimla, and Sirmour district. Out of 44 posts, the SFI has won 31 seats in Shimla and six out of eight in Sirmour. The SFI was able to make clean sweep in RKMV Shimla, Sanjaulli, Rampur College, which happens to be the home place of the incumbent chief minister, Rekong Peo, the tribal district and 3 posts in Theog and Nerwa. The SFI was able to win HPU Evening college Shimla all the four seats after full one decade. The SFI also emerged victorious in a majority of colleges in Kullu, Kangra and Solan districts. In both the tribal collegs the SFI remained victorious.


Though the  issues, as stated above,  mainly dominated the politics in the colleges, yet large-scale interference by local goons and leaders, mainly Congress, also took place. In Chamba district, there was large-scale rigging. On the previous night of elections the local Youth Congress goons attacked the hostel of Chamba college where SFI leaders were staying and scared them away. All this happened despite a written complaint by the warden to the police. But no constable was sent. On the day of voting the students wearing SFI badges were beaten away and were not allowed to enter the campus. The terror was of such a nature that even the candidates who were contesting were not allowed entry in the campus. All this was being done at the behest of the local minister who is also the Congress MLA. Similarly tactics were adopted in Hamirpur, Kotshera college, Solan and Sanjaulli colleges.


Despite all this the students have rebuffed the nefarious designs of the government. The task of SFI is all the more uphill as in the limited structure it has to carry the struggle of the students ahead. The challenges are also immense and the SFI shall have to stand by them.