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Mamata out to muzzle campuses?

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A gathering protests the Trinamool government’s ban on rallies at College Square, central Kolkata, on June 10. The protest is ongoing

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Coming close on the heels of the College Square rally ban, the new student election rules promulgated by the state government have raised the hackles of many citizens

By Sucheta Dasgupta

Student politics has traditionally been the first stepping stone to legislature for most politicians worth their salt in the state of West Bengal.

Last week, the Mamata Banerjee government framed rules under the West Bengal Universities and Colleges (Administration and Regulation) Act 2017, purportedly to depoliticise campuses. They are yet to be notified but are sure to raise the hackles of many an activist or even neutral-minded citizens.

Students will henceforth be barred from contesting elections on political parties’ symbols. The student union will be replaced by the student council of which the president and the vice-president will be teachers nominated by the vice-chancellor. The treasurer who will control the flow of funds will also be a teacher. Elections will be held only for the post of class representative, once every two years.  The general secretary will be a student elected by all the class representatives in the first meeting of the council.

There are additional stipulations—candidates must have at least 60 percent attendance, no criminal record, reasonably good academic performance and, once elected, cannot serve more than two terms.

The rules are set to become effective in the 2018 campus elections in the state.

The new regulations, however, seem to have arrived at a time when totalitarianism by governments is slowly gaining ground all over the country. For instance, in Telangana’s Hyderabad, the public relations officer of Osmania University, a hotbed of pro-beef agitations and Dalit protests, has also last week issued a note proscribing all political activity, including public meetings, on campus.

And in April, the Jawaharlal Nehru University— following a recent University Grants Commission’s notification—announced a massive reduction in student intake for its MPhil and PhD courses for the upcoming academic session, seen by many quarters as punishment by the centre for its 2016 stir that followed the arrest of JNU Students’ Union president from AISF and PhD scholar Kanhaiya Kumar.

Which begs the question, are ruling parties and their unions finding themselves on the back foot on these campuses, at least as far as electoral politics is concerned?

Trinamool Congress’ students union TMCP has slowly managed to gather influence in educational institutions across the state but so far it has failed to manage a breakthrough in the prestigious and politically significant Presidency College and Jadavpur University.  Here the main forces are still the SFI, the students’ wing of the CPM, and, in case of Presidency, the Independent Consolidation, a coalition of anti-SFI forces like Chhatra Parishad (Congress), Naxalites, SUCI and DSO.

The IC won the student elections this year with SFI presenting it with a tough fight. In JU, the SFI made a comeback in the arts faculty while TMCP lost the polls to all five office-bearers’ posts.

So these steps, which many might call undemocratic, might well be a plan to muzzle campus politics, coming as they do on the heels of the June 1 rally ban at historic College Square, College Street, in central Kolkata—which is witness to the freedom struggle, the Naxalite uprisings and even the popular movement that brought Banerjee herself to power and has been the protest hub of Kolkata since the 19th century. The ostensible trigger for the ban was a student’s putative complaint to the CM that they found it hard to study amid the noise generated by the protests in the area.

Interestingly, a group of individuals led by theatre artistes Joyraj Bhattacharjee and Shreyasi Bhaduri and poet and academic Nandini Dhar, picking lampoon and hyperbole as their weapons of choice, have been holding a silent protest at the very spot for over a week now. As participants do little more than loiter or sit in the area, wearing strips of black cloth covering their mouths, reading, holding placards and making street art, police have no ground to arrest them and, though present in strength, can only stand and stare.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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Gujarat Jain couple donate Rs 200 crore wealth, renounce world

The Bhandari couple was accompanied by 35 individuals in February and led a 4 km procession during which they donated all their belongings, from mobile phones to air conditioners.

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A Gujarat-based businessman and his wife have donated their lifetime earnings of Rs 200 crore and have taken the decision to renounce all materialistic desires to become Jain monks. In February this year, Bhavesh Bhandari and his wife donated all their wealth during a ceremony. The Bhandari family, which hails from Himmatnagar, has been in the construction business. The family decided to follow in the footsteps of their 16-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter, who adopted monkhood in 2022.

Bhavesh Bhandari, who belongs to a Jain family, had been a part of construction business in Ahmedabad and Sabarkantha and was accustomed to a life of luxury and prosperity from a young age. The Bhandari couple was accompanied by 35 individuals in February and led a 4 km procession during which they donated all their belongings, from mobile phones to air conditioners. A short video clip from the event shows the couple wearing regal attire on top of a chariot and making donations. Adorned in rich attire and jewellery, they stood atop a truck adorned to resemble a chariot, tossing garments and banknotes to the people standing below,

After the couple made their pledge on April 22 to adopt monkhood, the couple is going to break all familial relations and renounce any material possessions and desires. Afterwards, they will begin a barefoot journey across India and will sustain themselves solely on alms.

According to reports the couple will be allowed to own two white garments, an alms bowl, and a rajoharan, a white broom used by Jain monks to clear insects from an area before sitting — a symbol of the non-violent path which they follow. In a similar incident in January, the 8-year-old daughter of a Gujarati diamond merchant renounced material comforts and worldly desires to embrace monkhood. Devanshi Sanghv had participated in a grand procession with camels, elephants, horses and great fanfare before embracing a life of monkhood.

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Lok Sabha elections 2024: BJP releases 12th list of candidates, Udayanraje Bhonsle to contest from Satara

The BJP on Tuesday released its 12th list of seven candidates for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections

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The 12th list of seven candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, which are scheduled to start on Friday, was announced by the BJP on Tuesday. Among the seven candidates is Chhatrapati Udayanraje Bhosale, the 13th descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who will contest from Satara, Maharashtra, and Abhijit Das Bobby, who represents Diamond Harbour in West Bengal.

The current MP for the Trinamool Congress, Abhishek Banerjee, has been paired against Abhijit Das Bobby, who contested unsuccessfully for the Diamond Harbour seat in the general elections of 2009 and 2014.

Abhishek Banerjee won in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections with 40.31 percent of the vote, while Abhijit Das secured 15.92 percent of the vote to finish third. Dr. Abul Hasnat of CPI(M), who received 34.66% of the vote, came in second.

With 7,91,127 votes, the leader of the Trinamool Congress party was able to hold onto the seat in 2019. Nilanjan Roy of the BJP received 4,70,533 votes, while Fuad Halim of the CPI(M) secured third place with 93,941 votes.

The 13th descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Chhatrapati Udayanraje Bhosale, is another prominent figure on the list. He is contesting for the Satara Lok Sabha constituency in Maharashtra as a member of the BJP.

In the 2019 by-election, Bhosale—a former leader of the NCP who joined the BJP in 2022—lost the seat. There has been a back-and-forth in the seat on the Lok Sabha election candidate between the BJP and NCP.

Shashikant Shinde has received his ticket from the NCP (SP).

Shashank Mani Tripathi from Deoria and Thakur Vishwadeep Singh from Firozabad are the final candidates on the BJP’s 12th list.

In Uttar Pradesh, there are two seats.

Meanwhile, Union Minister Som Prakash’s wife Anita Som Prakash, who is a resident of Punjab, will contest for the Hoshiarpur seat in lieu of her husband.

Manjeet Singh Manna Miawind from Khadoor Sahib and Parampal Kaur Sidhu from Bathinda are the other two candidates, both of whom are from Punjab.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi says RJD is responsible for destroying Bihar, slams Lalu’s party over various corruption cases

The prime minister made a scathing attack at the opposition and said Ghamandia Gathbandhan has no vision or trust. He said when INDIA bloc alliance goes out asking for votes, then they do so on the basis of the work done by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that India and Bihar are moving forward to return to their ancient glory and added the upcoming Lok Sabha elections is an election to take a resolve for developed India and developed Bihar. PM Modi was addressing an election rally in Bihar’s Gaya, where he said that the public support that has gathered on the land of Gaya clearly shows enthusiasm of the people once again for the Modi government.

The prime minister spoke on BJP’s manifesto for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and said that it is for the first time that a Sankalp Patra of any party is being called a guarantee card as in the last 10 years, people have seen Modi’s guarantee for fulfillment of a guarantee.

PM Modi said for the next five years, Modi’s guarantee card has been updated. He promised 3 crore houses will be made for the poor, the poor will get free ration for the next 5 years and those above 70 years of age will receive free treatment upto Rs 5 lakhs He said the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi yojana will be continued and all of these are Modi’s guarantees.

The prime minister made a scathing attack at the opposition and said Ghamandia Gathbandhan has no vision or trust. He said when INDIA bloc alliance goes out asking for votes, then they do so on the basis of the work done by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. PM Modi said the people of Bihar know why they try and take credit for the work done by Nitish and the central government.

The prime minister said RJD is responsible for destroying Bihar and slammed Lalu’s party over various corruption cases including land for jobs scam, fodder scam. Speaking about BJP’s manifesto PM Modi said, there is a roadmap for every section and sector of the society.

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