Student election campaigns in Solan, Himachal Pradesh, have increasingly been associated with rioting and hooliganism.
In today’s video, our community correspondent Avdesh Negi brings to us the state of the Student’s Union in Solan. Every August-September, University students hold elections for important posts in the Student’s Council. The electorates almost always belong to a political party, and the powerful political parties include SFI-Students’ Federation of India (politically linked to the Communist Party of India) and ABVP- Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (politically linked to the BJP). Another party, NSUI- National Students’ Union of India (politically linked to the Congress Party), was forced not to take part in elections this year, as they did not have enough support amongst the students.
Avdesh tells us that students who wish to vote must fill out a form, and in return they are given a badge that displays which political party they have voted for. Wearing this badge is compulsory, and often results in the growth of animosity among supporters of opposing parties. ‘There have been numerous incidents’, he says, ‘where young people have been beaten up only because they supported a particular party. Some have been so seriously injured that they have had to be hospitalized.’
Between August and September, party supporters come out on the streets and campaign vigorously. However, their style of campaigning is of a negative nature, rampant with rioting and vandalism. 500-600 students end up voting, whereas around 200 stay away from doing so. According to Avdesh, they feel that politics will not benefit them in any way. They have not experienced any benefits from the various parties that have been elected over the years, and feel that one more election will not change anything. More so, they believe that if they don’t vote, they shall be free of any harmful threats from political parties.
When he was at University, Avdesh was one of those who never voted in student elections. He is worried for his two younger brothers, who are still studying at school. He fears that by the time they join University, the political atmosphere may have gotten so worse that even the police may become helpless. ‘There should be a law’, he says, ‘that permits these political parties to all work together towards real reforms. That way, the students may actually get to see some benefits and concentrate on their studies, instead of indulging in gunda gardi , i.e. hooliganism.’
– Rajyashri Goody