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Pradeep Singh

With no student union elections in colleges and universities across Odisha since 2018, resentment seems to be brewing among a section of students while the student wings of political parties continue to slam the state government.

Student union elections were cancelled in Odisha in 2018 due to Cyclone Titli, in 2019 due to campus violence, and since 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead of elections, educational institutions are now being run by committees formed by students. This will be the fifth consecutive year when the students union elections will not be conducted in Odisha (as no reports or notification has been released so far to hold the polls in 2022).

"Without conducting polls, the state government is depriving us of our rights. At least, this year, the union polls should be held in educational institutions," said a student.

"No campus election means curtailing the voice of students. It is only through these elections that we are able to raise the issues that establish a direct connect with us," said another student.

Campus elections are the microcosm of mainstream politics in any state and it becomes more important in a democratic country like India. As the Covid situation has already improved, the state government must hold the polls which will only help nurture youth and future leaders, said an educationist.

On the other hand, the students' wing of Congress slammed the ruling-BJD and demanded immediate release of notification for the conduct of elections in colleges.

Odisha Chhatra Congress president Yashir Nawaz alleged that the state government is silent on all the issues pertaining to the students and has even failed to create job opportunities. "We will stage protest in front of all colleges demanding conduct of students' union elections," said Nawaz.

Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) secretary, Soubhagya Mohanty also demanded elections in educational institutions and said that the organisation will write to the Odisha Chief Minister in this regard.

However, Bjiu Chhatra Janata Dal (BCJD) vice-president Pradosh Parida said that they were never against holding student's elections. "We were continuously winning the polls, so there is no reason of us being against the polls," he said.

The state government has taken the decision (not to hold polls) taking into account the existing situation and it will take appropriate decision on whether to hold students' union elections or not, Parida added.

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