November 19, 2023

SFI’s Victory in HCUSU Elections: A Defeat for Communal and Divisive Politics

G Mohith

THE Hyderabad Central University once again emerged victorious in defeating communal, divisive, money, and muscle power in student politics. The victory of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI)-led panel in the student union elections of the University of Hyderabad just before the Telangana state assembly elections and the General Elections in 2024 reflects the sentiments of students and their resolute objection to hatred and divisive politics. In the midst of a nationwide atmosphere of neo-liberal authoritarianism, the victory in the HCU-SU elections offers a ray of hope to progressive sections and the student community across the country.

The HCU student community rallied behind the alliance of SFI, ASA (Ambedkar Students' Association), and TSF (Tribal Students' Forum). The SFI-led alliance  secured victories in all six positions in the central panel and three GS-CASH positions. The panel demonstrated representation from socially backward and marginalised sections, including two minority candidates, president Ateeq Ahmed, and cultural secretary Samim Akter Shaik. The panel also includes representation from dalit and tribal communities. The student community strongly supported the alliance of the Left, Ambedkarite, and tribal groups against the communal ABVP. This underscores the imperative of uniting all progressive forces to counter communal forces throughout the country.

The ABVP at Hyderabad Central University has nominated a woman candidate from minority community for the position of president for the first time in the campus's history. ABVP has employed various tactics to influence the student community, resorting to spreading hate messages in WhatsApp groups and engaging in violence at different locations. Recently, ABVP members attacked    minority students on campus and even threatened the election commission during hostel elections. During general body meetings at hostels, ABVP resorted to violence against our comrades and also threatened the election commission.  Despite these challenges, SFI actively resisted ABVP, ensuring the campus remained democratic and secular.

In an attempt to appear progressive, ABVP fielded a minority candidate for the presidential post, but the student community of HCU taught them a strong  lesson.

The SFI-led Students' Union for the academic year 2022-23 consistently took a proactive stance in addressing a spectrum of student issues, spanning from fundamental concerns to matters at the policy level. When the administration imposed a 600 rupee fee for the CUET application, the SFI-led Union conducted a five-day sit-in protest. Consequently, the administration reduced the CUET application fee by 50 per cent, marking a rare instance in the country where application fees were not only reduced but also refunded to students who had already paid. The previous Students' Union brought attention to caste discrimination in the PhD interview process, leading to a fight in the academic council for structural changes against caste discrimination and the blatant violation of reservation policies. As a result, the administration refrained from disclosing candidates' castes during the display of interview lists and throughout the interview process—a significant milestone against caste discrimination and reservation violations in higher education.

The previous Students' Union consistently opposed the National Education Policy, which aimed at centralisation, communalisation, and commercialisation of education at every level. In the Academic Council, the Students' Union actively opposed CUET and ensured the formation of a committee to review its implications. The SFI-led Students' Union vehemently opposed fee hikes, privatisation, and the communalisation of campus spaces. When the RSS openly entered the campus to conduct an event, SFI took the lead in resisting Sangh forces. Consequently, the administration was compelled to release a list of registered student organisations on campus permitted to conduct events, making it more challenging for the RSS to operate openly in the campus space due to our collective struggles.

On the other hand, the Sangh administration in HCU tried to attack all democratic spaces and bodies, such as the Equal Opportunity Cell, SC/ST Grievance Cell, GS-CASH, etc. However, we made sure that such attacks are not tolerated and worked towards ensuring the proper and efficient functioning of all these bodies in a democratic manner.

SFI at Hyderabad Central University has actively opposed anti-student policies by the union government and administration. Simultaneously, we have fought against the communal ABVP and their influence involving money and muscle power. The administration and ABVP maintained a significant nexus in various matters, including the scheduling of election dates. ABVP and other organisations injected a substantial amount of money into the campus under the guise of various festivals and programmes. The student community at Hyderabad Central University has discerned the manipulative tactics employed by organisations engaging in divisive politics, particularly noting the communal nature of ABVP.

The student community outrightly rejected communal and divisive politics, aligning themselves with the principles of independence, democracy, and socialism. SFI HCU remains committed to ensuring that the university campus remains progressive, carrying forward the struggles of our comrades who sacrificed their lives.