People's Democracy

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


No. 09

February 28, 2010

SFI Sweeps Students’ Union

Elections in Bengal

B Prasant


OVER 2009 and 2010, the Bengal unit of the SFI has been eminently successful in leading the election results in more than 65 per cent of the undergraduate colleges and universities, including technical institutions, wherever elections have been held for the formation of the student’s unions (SU).

From Siliguri in the north to the Sunderbans-bordering urban conurbations and rural stretches, the insidious slogan raised by the ruling classes and the media they patronised about Paribartan (change) has failed to click with the majority of the students.

The latest examples of the SFI sweep across the state are the Presidency College and the Scottish Church College. Both have been won over the SFI, in the former college for the second time running, in the latter for some time now. News reaches us that the large number of colleges that went in for SU polls on February 19 in Nadia have been won by the SFI.

We single out Presidency College for our take on the nature of the SFI success in the wake of the results of the Lok Sabha elections where, too, the young people had voted, albeit perhaps in a different way. What has brought about the Paribartan since then?

The Presidency College once had the awkward reputation that the students there lately voted for either the rightists or the left sectarians. The past two years have proved shining exceptions and the margin of both votes polled by SFI candidates and the seats that the SFI have won, have gone considerably up.

The present elections at the Presidency College saw the SFI romp home with 39 seats with the combined opposition of the ‘Maoist-BJP-dominated independent consolidation relegated to the second spot with 30 seats. One seat was a tie.

The student movement in Bengal has always been a Left one. We recall how back when we were students of this august institution, the BPSF had had a running battle with the rightist and the opportunist outfits of various kinds. Much later, when the Naxalite movement arose out of a bloodbath on the college street area, the BPSF had not given an inch away politically and organisationally.

The 1950s and the 1960s were witness to the Communist movement, specially the struggle led from the vanguard post by the CPI(M), being equipped with cadres who had come up through the student movement. Biman Basu, Shyamal Chakraborty, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Shyamali Gupta are names known principally for the leadership they provided to the BPSF and then the SFI.

The turn-around following the Lok Sabha polls started indeed with the rejection by the Bengal student community of the politics of violence, anarchy, and mayhem indulged in by the right reactionaries and their left sectarian lackeys at the Panihati College in north 24 Parganas followed by the bloodshed of SFI workers at the Harimohan Ghosh College in South 24 Pargans.

The bringing in of anti-social elements as routine chore by the Trinamuli-backed student outfits in the Kolkata colleges (Shyamaprasad College is the latest such example, in Kolkata) was yet another provocation to students who saw that the academe itself was about to be put under the shadow of the sword and the gun. The students responded with a rousing win for the SFI in a series of colleges and universities since then.

The agent provocateurs of anarchy and mayhem could mislead the young generation for a time, albeit brief, but in the final analysis it has been the politics that had dominated the thinking of the students, with the organisational integrity of the SFI at the grassroots’ level adding finally to what appears to us as a series of debacle that we are about to witness for the forces of counter-development and pro-anarchy, of the extreme right and left.