Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 27:
Blood spilled in the premier university of Odisha again on Saturday. The reason is the same that it has always been in the past: gross political interference. As in every case in the past, university authorities and the police find that there is precious little they can do – assuming that they do want to do something – in the face of political interference from the top level.
The university, long known as a Congress stronghold fell to BJD in last year’s student union election after student leaders of Congress switched loyalty to BJD. Given its strategic importance, the BJD wants to keep a tight grip over the politics of the campus after decimating the Congress. The move, however, is being fiercely contested by ABVP, the student wing of BJP.
What muddies the matter further is the ijntimate involvement of top leaders of all three major parties in the affairs of the university.
While four ministers and a MLA from the BJD camp are actively involved in spearheading the BJD agenda in the campus, the ABVP has the blessings of a Union Minister, a former state minister, a senior leader who changed loyalty to BJP, two defeated BJP MLAs and a former Zilla Parishad candidate.
Even though the BJD camp is still in a strong position in the university, mismanagement by the political bosses is leading to chaos on a number of occasions.
Apart from a minister who once was the President of the Student’s Union of the university, the others are not highly experienced in campus politics. While a first time MLA never had anything to do with campus politics, a first time minister allegedly never went to a college.
The first time and MLA and the first time minister from the BJD camp, who were credited with getting Student Congress leaders to the ruling party camp, were not able achieve the strategic objective even after winning the campus election as evident from the incident of egg hurling at the Chief Minister in February this year. Also, they failed to have a plan to contain the ABVP before bringing down Students congress.
The University campus continues to remain volatile over the admission of an ABVP leader Prithviraj Dalabehera, who earlier used to be a student wing president of Nayagarh BJD and Nayagarh College Students’ Union President. Dalabehera used to have close links with a minister from BJD rank.
Now, BJD is trying all it can to prevent his admission as it believes that would embolden the ABVP in the campus. On the other hand, ABVP is leaving no stones unturned to get him in the campus and strengthen its foothold.
The result of this ugly political fight, however, is taking a toll on the career of students. Burning vehicles, attacking each other, damaging university infrastructure, blocking highway has become the new normal in the university.