People's Democracy

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


No. 04

January 23, 2011




BUCTU Again Asserts in Varsity Senate Polls


THE Bombay University and College Teachers’ Union (BUCTU) recently created a history of sorts by winning the Senate election of the University of Mumbai, with a landslide margin, for the fourth consecutive time. The election was held on December 22, 2010.


In this election, the College teachers of Mumbai decisively reposed their faith in the union which has stood by them through thick and thin.


This election acquires further significance in view of the fact that it was taking place in the backdrop of the historic indefinite strike conducted by the Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisations (MFUCTO), in which the BUCTU had played a pivotal role. The landmark Senate victory in Mumbai University and similar victories in other parts of Maharashtra bear a clear testimony to the endorsement of the strike action and subsequent struggles by the teachers, who view the MFUCTO and its constituents as the champions of their cause.




Two candidates of the BUCTU (both women, viz. Anupama Sawant and Sunita Khariwal) were elected unopposed; and the union went on to win 15 of the 16 seats in the faculties of Arts, Science, Commerce, and Technology for which the voting took place. This brought its overall tally to 17. Among these, most have made their entry for the first time. Madhu Paranjape has been elected to the Senate on the BUCTU ticket for a record fifth consecutive term since 1989. The others are Vasant Shekade, Jalinder Adsule, Mohasina Mukadam, Aadyaprasad Pande, Sangita Godbole, Binduprasad Mishra, Deepak Bidwai, Pralhad Pawar, Abhay Bhambole, Vivek Deshmukh, Sanjay Kumar, Anuradha Muzumdar, Madhuri Nikam and Aarti Prasad.


It is pertinent to note that while the Maharashtra Universities’ Act 1994 provides for only three (3) reserved seats for women, the BUCTU had fielded 8 women candidates, all of whom have won. The executive committee of the BUCTU has congratulated the teachers and recorded its appreciation of their strong support despite the fact that most of the candidates fielded by the union, were contesting the Senate election for the first time.


It may be recalled that the just concluded term had witnessed an unprecedented number (3) of elections being held from the Teachers’ Constituency owing to the mischief and malafide intentions of the university authorities. The magnitude of the mischief and the extent of the conspiracy to keep the BUCTU out of the Senate can be gauged from the fact that two registrars of Mumbai University had to be suspended following intervention by the court or Chancellor’s office. The mischief was not confined to the university officials. It extended to the state bureaucracy which is hell-bent on keeping the outspoken and bold watchdogs of the union out of the university.


The Maharashtra University Act has been amended through the backdoor to impose irrelevant restrictions on the participation of teachers and graduates in the elections. Thus, conditions such as holding a PhD degree, number of turns as examiner/paper setter, etc at university examinations, etc have been imposed through these amendments. That is the reason why a large number of sitting members of the union, who played a stellar role in exposing corruption in the university and fought for the teachers’ cause through bodies such as the Grievance Redressal Cell, etc, simply became ineligible to contest the recent elections.


The draconian amendments have already had disastrous cascading consequences in numerous spheres of the functioning not only of the University of Mumbai but other universities in the state as well. A large number of elective posts in Boards of Studies remain vacant, and numerous Boards cannot even be constituted because there is not a single candidate with the qualifications set out for them. One seat of Mumbai University Senate from the teachers’ constituency from the Fine Arts faculty will now remain vacant for the next five years for the same reason. The vice chancellors and other officials wish to have a field day by constituting Ad-hoc Boards and nominating their cronies to run them. Even the posts of registrar and pro-vice chancellor have not been filled up through regular appointments.




Even though the last date for enrolment by teachers in the electoral roll was over in April, 2010 the university procrastinated in the preparation of the roll. And it is only in the process of this preparation that it came to light a number of college principals had not forwarded the forms to the university even though the teachers had given them on time. As a result, a number of large colleges which have traditionally been strong supporters and from where BUCTU Senate members have been elected in the past, were kept out of the fray. This is another aspect of the anti-democratic structure of the university which vests undue powers in the hands of principals, registrar, etc and denies teachers even their elementary democratic right to become a voter.


Braving all such odds, and fighting against time due to the highly compressed campaign schedule, the BUCTU swung into action. In a thoroughly transparent and democratic procedure (which it has been following for the past three decades), the BUCTU invited applications from the teachers to become its candidates, screened them through a Selection Committee, with personal interviews, and posted its list of selected candidates in a record period of just one week! The campaign with the selected candidates that followed was spearheaded by the president, Professor C R Sadasivan, and general secretary, Dr Tapati Mukhopadhyay.


Over 1800 voters in the colleges, spread over the far-flung areas of the University of Mumbai, were contacted by three to four teams of candidates, past Senate members and also other office-bearers of the union. In the midst of the campaign, the office-bearers even made a point of attending the massive morcha for defending public funded education that was held on December 2 in Delhi.




Special mention has to be made of the enthusiasm generated among the teachers working in the colleges under the faculty of Technology that includes engineering as well as pharmacy. Over the years, this faculty which comprises mainly private unaided colleges of engineering has grown dramatically in size. And it shows in the fact that while there were just two seats allotted to Technology a decade ago, in this election four (4) seats are from this faculty!


One upstart, whose rise in the corridors of university’s power centre had been as mysterious as it was meteoric, had brazenly misused his Senate membership to gain cheap popularity. The teachers of the Technology faculty in particular, and others as well, have strongly rebuffed such gimmicks and elected all four candidates of the BUCTU from the Technology faculty, among whom two are women and one belonging to Pharmacy!


It should come as no surprise that the BUCTU once again mobilised nearly 3000 teachers; and that an overwhelming majority (78 – 80 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 17 out of the 18 candidates fielded by the BUCTU.


The executive committee of BUCTU has said it is deeply aware that the trust reposed in them by the teachers --- especially the teachers from Technology --- places a great responsibility on their shoulders. It has assured the teachers that this strong team of Senate members going into the university will live up to the tradition of the BUCTU and discharge their responsibilities under the guidance of the executive committee.