May 6: What St. Xavier's College has been doing for several years; other colleges will be asked to do in future. The state government will adopt the Xavier's model for student union elections to keep campuses free of mainstream political parties, West Bengal education minister Partha Chatterjee said on May 6. West Bengal Government is set to cleanse campuses of party politics.
"We don't want the involvement of political leaders in student body elections. Student bodies should function as apolitical units. We will adopt the St. Xavier's model for conducting student polls," Chatterjee said.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, had in an interview to ABP Ananda in March, recommended the St. Xavier's model as "good". She had said she would request the education minister to see if the same model could be adopted in state-aided colleges.
“Amar mone hoy proti bochhor election-er naam-ey shaktir opochoy korar kono maney hoy na. Aami shiksha mantrike bolbo St. Xavier's College -ey je bhabe election kora hoi seta kora jay ki na. (I think having elections every year is a waste of energy. I will ask the education minister to consider if the St. Xavier's model can be adopted.)," Mamata had said. Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi had also lauded the Xavier's model.
At St Xavier's, student organizations with political affiliations have no role to play in student council elections. Students decide how they want to contest the polls, independent of leaders outside. Polls are conducted to elect class representatives (CRs). The CRs, along with the secretaries of Bengali Literary Society, Hindi Literary Society and Theatrical Society among many others, elect the general secretary, assistant general secretary and a working committee. The principal is the president of the students' council.
Father Felix Raj, the principal of St. Xavier's College and the vice-chancellor of St. Xavier's University, had told Metro: "We have a students' council instead of a students' union. Students have an important role to play and what we want is an integral and holistic formation of students."
The state higher education department has been entrusted with the responsibility of framing the new election rules. A report on the proposed rules will be submitted to the chief minister for her approval soon, Chatterjee said on the sidelines of a programme at Dinabandhu Andrews College in Garia. The new rules will be implemented from this year itself.
Student body polls are scheduled to be held between October and December. "A team of higher education department officials will examine the St. Xavier's model as well as other institutions where student bodies are apolitical," said a senior official of the education department.