Student union elections will be held on Wednesday at Kolkata's Jadavpur University where the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the BJP's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is contesting for the first time.
Of the 13 seats up for grabs in the students' union's central panel, the ABVP is contesting nine seats, fielding more candidates than the Students' Federation of India (SFI) and some other students groups.
This is also the first time in three years that student union elections are being held at Jadavpur University. In 2017, after violence on campuses across the state during student polls, the education department banned student unions and proposed apolitical student councils instead. But after three years of protests by students, union elections have been reinstated.
Besides ABVP, the other students groups affiliated to political parties that are contesting the elections are SFI of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), All India Students Association (AISA) of Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Trinamool Chattra Parishad besides All India Democratic Students' Organisation (AIDSO) and RPF. Several independent student groups are also in the fight.
ABVP has fielded candidates in all four seats in the Arts department and all five seats in the Engineering department. It has however not fielded any candidates for the four seats in the Science department. In 2017, ABVP had contested some seats in the Engineering department but under another banner and not ABVP.
That ABVP has managed to field a 'full panel' for Arts and Engineering, raising eyebrows because long-standing student groups like AISA have not been able to do so.
In the 2017, the SFI won the Arts department seats and independent students groups got the Science and Engineering department seats.
The vice chancellor of Jadavpur University, Professor Suranjan Das, has issued an appeal for peaceful elections. The university has been in the eye of multiple storms in the last few months.
In September, students allegedly roughed up Union Minion Babul Supriyo and prompted the governor Jagdeep Dhankar to come to the campus to rescue him. In December, the governor was unable to attend the convocation as his way to the venue was blocked by employees of the university who were protesting his support for the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.