People's Democracy

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


No. 34

August 31 , 2008



Massive Victory For BUCTU In Varsity Senate Elections


THE Bombay University and College Teachers’ Union (BUCTU) has trounced the panel sponsored by coterie of corrupt officials by winning 14 out of 17 seats in the senate of University of Mumbai and winning over 74 per cent of the votes cast. This is the third time in three years that the college teachers in the University of Mumbai have handed down such a massive defeat to the coterie which even abjectly colluded this time with a section of the principals. The BUCTU candidates who have won the elections are: Professors Tapati Mukhopadhyay, B R Salve, Madhu Paranjape, Jagdish Theckedath, Mukund Bapat, K Y Rajput, Rohini Sivabalan, Anjali Kanitkar, Mohd Tahir, G M Patil, Anuradha Siddique, James Michael, B M Gaikwad and Bhimrao Shikare.

Subversion of  Democracy

It may be recalled here that in the elections to the senate held in September 2005 for a five-year term, the BUCTU had won 20 out of 20 seats for the second time in succession – much to the chagrin of the entrenched coterie in the University - a feat unparalleled not only in Maharashtra but the entire country! S M  Krishna, the then chancellor of the non-agricultural universities in Maharashtra had set aside that election pointing the finger at the illegal manner in which the vice chancellor had removed over 300 names from the electoral roll. It is ironical that the victims of this act of omission were the elected teachers who had won despite this machination. An inquiry was instituted into the manner in which this sordid act was done, and it submitted a voluminous report detailing the callous and arbitrary functioning of the university officers, particularly the vice-chancellor and the registrar. The then registrar who had been singled out for action rushed to the court, but got no relief; instead a departmental inquiry was ordered. That departmental inquiry conducted by a retired High Court judge has been completed and the report is lying with the vice chancellor who has sat on it for the past six months.

Second Election

The University then proceeded to hold the polls again in November 2006 for 17 of the 20 seats for which the election was set aside by the chancellor. Here again the stamp of the BUCTU’s success was evident when 6 of its 17 candidates were declared elected unopposed after the scrutiny of nominations! That is when the sordid drama of collusion between a section of the principals and the University coterie, and unprecedented deception began.
Unable to digest the writing on the wall, the overzealous principals’ lobby then moved the vacation judge (single) and the counsel for the University played along! This was done without disclosing that the electoral process had commenced and a circular declaring the six members elected had been issued by the University! And lo and behold! An order was passed stopping the electoral process which had commenced in which six teachers of the BUCTU had already been declared elected, unopposed!
The learned vacation judge’s order has mysteriously vanished from the official website of the Mumbai High Court. The tracks were covered by getting the order confirmed by the regular bench in January 2007. The offended senate members were still fighting their case in the High Court when the University after a gap of one year announced in January that the election would be held afresh. It is that election which was just conducted on  July 25, 2008 more than two years after the BUCTU senators were ousted calumniously.

Death of Democracy

Rise of Coterie Functioning
During the two years that the BUCTU senate members, sentinels of democracy in the portals of the University, were kept out through acts of omission and commission by the coterie, the latter had a field day squandering precious resources garnered in the name of post centennial golden jubilee celebrations. This was the period in which the vice chancellor and his lieutenants sank to lowest depths by trying to get the University listed on the Mumbai Stock Exchange! Rupees Two lakhs were sunk for this aborted venture.
One upstart, whose rise in the corridors of University’s power centre is as mysterious as it is meteoric, heads not one but two important centres in the Vidyanagari campus. A dean without a Ph D degree sits on the Research Recognition Committee and has shot down proposals from genuine students and college teachers for Ph D degree on flimsy grounds and they have no compunctions in sanctioning the proposals of political bigwigs without even due notice to the members.
Meanwhile students have been deprived of habitable hostel accommodation and decent facilities. Crucial bodies like Management Council and Grievance Redressal Committees for teachers, employees and students have remained truncated and defunct. 

Third Election

It is in this background that the University announced its third election to the senate from the Teachers’ constituency in three years. The entire timetable was squeezed to just three weeks and the date of election was fixed when the monsoon is at its peak – especially in the Konkan region where colleges can be cut off from one another due to flooding landslides, etc. But the authorities were hell bent on holding these elections because of their machination which had seen the appointment of a co-petitioner in the tainted petition being appointed as registrar; and worse, inclusion of over 100 names of principals in the electoral roll of teachers, even though they already have a constituency of their own in the senate. The challenge to this in the Mumbai High Court by a teacher was struck down. And not content with all this the registrar invalidated over 100 valid votes contravening provisions of Representation of the People Act regarding ballots cast in elections where there is proportionate representation.
Battling against all odds the BUCTU mobilised over 3000 teachers. More than 74 per cent of the ballots polled had scrupulously followed the “pattern” of voting circulated by the BUCTU. This has resulted in the thumping victory for the teachers who have returned 14 out of the 17 candidates fielded by the BUCTU.
The saga of the struggle that is being waged by the BUCTU against the subversion of democracy in Mumbai University continues and its history will be remembered in the days to come