(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
September 18, 2011
RAJASTHAN STUDENT UNION POLLS
Students Give Vent To Their Anger
Against Neo-Liberal Policies
Dr Sanjay Madhav
CANDIDATES of the pro-Congress National Students Union of India (NSUI) and the pro-BJP Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) suffered serious setbacks in the student union polls that took place in all the colleges and universities of Rajasthan on August 20. A large majority of the seats under contest went either to the Students Federation of India (SFI) and third front candidates or to independents.
Out of the 10 universities in the state, the NSUI won the president posts in only 2 universities and the ABVP in one. The rest of the president posts went to the third front or independent candidates. Results in 1350 private or government colleges spread over 33 districts in the state were more or less on the similar lines.
This time the SFI contested in three universities and 73 colleges spread over 11 districts; it had put up whole panels at some places and contested specific seats at others. In the Jaynarayan University of Jodhpur, Indra Kumari of the SFI garnered about 3,300 votes and registered her victory to the apex joint general secretary post by a margin of 743 votes while SFI candidates for the president and other posts garnered a total of about 2,500 votes and suffered defeat with very small margins.
This victory of the SFI in the home district of the Rajasthan chief minister, Ashok Gehlot, is being viewed as of serious political importance, as this area of western Rajasthan has been a stronghold of all kinds of feudal and retrograde social forces. The peasants and other poor are compelled to live here not only with oppressive geographical conditions but also amid social discriminations, caste oppression and gigantic economic disparities.
Even in the midst of quite adverse circumstances, the SFI has had an impressive presence in the student life in this area, casting a big impact on the poor, dalit and tribal students of the said university in particular. This positive support of the latter has always been helping the SFI to survive and grow. Students from the most deprived and oppressed sections have always been standing by the SFI despite numerous attempts by the RSS and also by some dalit organisations to make an inroad among these sections and to target the SFI for the purpose.
Prabha Chaudhari of the third front scored her victory in Rajasthan University of Jaipur, the biggest and most important university of the state, while an independent candidate came second here. The NSUI and ABVP candidates had had to remain content with the third and fifth positions respectively.
The SFI’s Kailash Gadhwal for the general secretary’s post came fourth here, with 850 odd votes.
Sikar is the
district of the state and is also politically important. Here, in
Out of the 73 colleges where the SFI contested, its candidates won the president posts in 33. It also won the vice president posts in 36, general secretary posts in 38 and joint secretary posts in 34 colleges. The SFI’s panels as a whole won in as many as 26 colleges.
The SFI panels won by big margins in both the key colleges of tribal-majority Dungarpur district as well.
The political situation today is such that the Congress led UPA and the BJP led NDA are acting as two faces of one and the same neo-liberal policy regime, and are compelled to resort to duplicity for the same reason. While they strive to rush all possible benefits to the Indian and foreign corporate houses and other rich, they feel compelled to adopt alluring postures on the basic issues facing the common people like increasing cost of living, unemployment, lack of basic amenities, corruption, health and education, and the like. The purpose is to mislead the people who are groaning under the burden of the same neo-liberal policies which these parties are striving hard to push through.
But this double-faced politics of these parties and combinations is now increasingly coming to the fore and the common people are getting fed up with the antics of these parties. The latest results show that the students at large are disgusted with the NSUI as well as the ABVP, which in fact reflects the sufferings their parents are made to bear because of neo-liberal policies.
In the background of the student union polls in Rajasthan, the SFI ran a comprehensive campaign on the issue of these neo-liberal policies and their increasingly obvious impact on education and employment. It went to the students and youth of Rajasthan with the questions of privatisation of education that is making the latter increasingly costlier, the process of jobs getting killed or becoming increasingly insecure, corruption, incessant and back-breaking price rises, etc. The SFI’s campaign brought forward concrete cases of how the Gehlot government of the Congress is pushing the opening of education shops in the form of private colleges in Rajasthan. Its allocation for education is dwindling in real terms and it is not filling up thousands of teacher posts that are lying vacant across the state even though lakhs of educated youth are unemployed and passing their days in forced idleness. On the other hand, ministers and senior officers have converted transfers into a lucrative industry, and are minting money through their corrupt deals in this regard. The SFI also highlighted the spate of corruption scams of the recent years, like the 2G spectrum scam, Commonwealth Games scam, Adarsh Society scam, illegal mining scams in Karnataka and Rajasthan etc.
Faced with this powerful and widespread campaign of the SFI, the RSS-BJP led saffron brigade activated its whole machinery, including money power and muscle power, to ensure the victory of the ABVP’s nominees. As the same time, the Congress and the Gehlot government were trying to make the NSUI candidates win by hook or by crook, so as to be able to propagate that the students of Rajasthan are solidly in favour of their policies. Making an open mockery of the Supreme Court’s directives, the Lyngdoh committee’s recommendations and the model code of conduct, the selfsame liquor mafias, the land mafias and the education mafias of Rajasthan, in an alliance with the two ruling class parties, made an ‘investment’ of crores of rupees in order to ensure the victory of the NSUI and ABVP candidates in these polls. They used costly cars and wine to allure the students and, at places, even confined some students in resorts. On the other hand, office bearers of each of the two organisations openly levelled allegations against their own colleagues of arbitrariness and bribe-taking in ticket distribution. Caste, community and other parochial considerations were also utilised during the poll process.
The SFI repeatedly tried to draw the attention of college and university authorities and of general administration to these malpractices that were aimed at hijacking the students’ mandate. But the administration did not move a little finger to curb these violations of the code of conduct.
There were numerous reports, from all over the state, of the use of unfair practices. But the students community rejected all such attempts and their mandate reflected their anger over the policies that are making their present and future dark.
The results indicate that big sections of students and youth of Rajasthan stand disillusioned with the Congress-BJP policies, are no more enamoured of the so-called yuva-hridaya-samrats (emperors of the young people’s hearts) and are now in search of an alternative policy regime. They got a meaningful alternative in the latest polls in the higher education institutions of Rajasthan, and they did come forward to accept it.
This mood of the Rajasthan’s youth indicates what direction the state politics may take in the coming days. It is a positive indication ---- that if the non-Congress, non-BJP forces are able to present a concrete and credible alternative before the people, the latter’s anger would further strengthen that alternative and take it in the direction of significant pro-people political changes. On the other hand, if this anger is not given a correct political direction, the ruling classes and the forces of reaction would do their level best to use it to further their own interests.
In Rajasthan, the victorious independent candidates as well as those of the third front, which spontaneously emerged, are not aware of any political ideology and lack a direction. The casteist and other retrograde forces have now got active to exploit the students’ anger for their own designs. In such a situation, a serious responsibility devolves upon the students politics of Rajasthan --- to properly channelise the anger of these youth and students for pro-people changes. The democratic students movement of the state will have to draw proper lessons from these election results, strengthen itself ideologically and organisationally, and prove true to the expectations the state’s youth and students have from it.