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Featured Image: The referendum poster that the Presidency students have designed. 

By A Newsman

Kolkata, 15 September: THE STUDENTS in Bengal’s prestigious Presidency University are conducting a referendum on the alleged ill-management by their vice-chancellor and the attempts to curb the institute’s autonomy by the state government.

The referendum that has commenced at the varsity’s College Street main campus in Kolkata 10 am on Tuesday, would continue tomorrow as well. According to the Presidency University Students’ Union Council the referendum will be held until 5 pm on both days.

The students’ council is dominated by Independent Consolidation, which is opposed to the ruling Trinammol Congress. It is conducting the referendum on paper ballots asking the students to express their opinion on four points:

  1. Do you think that our vice-chancellor has failed to pay attention to the opinions of the student community in Presidency University?
  2. Do you think that the consistent transfer of teachers from Presidency University negatively affects our academic atmosphere?
  3. Do you think that the autonomy of Presidency University is being curbed?
  4. Do you think that the admission procedure of Presidency University for the academic session starting 2015 was conducted in an inefficient manner?

The referendum is being held at a time when the Presidency University VC Anuradha Lohia is in Darjeeling. She went there to attend the foundation laying of the varsity’s campus in Kurseong by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that was held on Monday.

According to the students’ council general secretary Trisha Chanda, around 800 of the 2,500 students have cast their ballots till early afternoon on Tuesday. “We have set up five voting compartments in all the five buildings in the university and have brought in an external to oversee the referendum process,” she said adding that they would hold a general body meeting once the results are out.

The last time Presidency students organised a referendum was in March 2014 on whether Sugata Bose should resign as the varsity’s mentor group chairman after he was nominated by the Trinamool Congress to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Jadavpur. Back then, most students had voted in favour of Bose’s resignation but he did not step down.

The latest referendum comes against the backdrop of an alleged police assault on the students in the campus when they waved black flags to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on 21 August. Subsequently the students had confined the VC to her chamber for about 24 hours.