Students Take a Stand, Support Left Front
The general elections have begun.. We students, those of us eighteen and above, will get a chance to take part in this huge decision making process...
We have a say in who will form the next parliament and the next government of our country,
who will decide how much the government invests in our education or how far it withdraws from the responsibility;
who will decide whether the economy creates jobs for all of us or merely fills the pockets of those already rolling about in money;
who will decide whether freedom of speech is meant merely to be a fancy phrase or is actually protected in our campuses, on the internet, and outside.
There are many parties and many faces contesting in this election..
Look deeper, and you will see a bipolar contest –
a contest of two diametrically different ways for our country to move forward.
We stand at a fork in the road.
On the right is the path India has been walking on for the last two decades,
the path that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer,
the path that allows the government to wash its hands off responsibility for the education, health, jobs, food and homes of its people while it takes on the responsibility of helping the rich by cutting taxes, diluting labour laws, creating loopholes of privilege everywhere,
the path that lets the government sell off the country’s natural resources and profitable industries to private businessmen,
the path that leads to ‘growth’ that does not create jobs and leaves behind the majority of people of the land,
the path that divides people along the lines of religion, caste, community and language to divert their eyes from the regular pilferage of the common man’s wealth.
On the left is a path that promises a change,
Not just a change of faces, but a change of direction, a change of outlook.
As students we have a set of demands from the government, irrespective of who is in power. Our demands have been clearly chalked out and there is a continuous movement surrounding these demands – the right to free education and free healthcare for all, the right to work, equality within the campus, democratic rights within the campus…
In these elections, we have been empowered to take part in electing a government for our country - the government that is going to decide whether our demands will be met.
We will do justice to our cause by electing those whose policies most closely meet our demands.
We will take our decisions based on our experiences and a clear understanding of these policies.
Our Demand: Free and quality education for all
Right Wing – Congress, TMC, BJP: While being in power for all these years none of them have taken effective steps to universalize free education. The UPA-2 passed the RTE act but provided no substantial budget allocations.
Left Front’s Alternative Policies: Implementing Right to Education act to provide free and compulsory elementary education. Their policies also include improving and expanding public infrastructure, which will directly strengthen the education system and meet our demand for quality education.
The Left Front while in power in West Bengal did in fact implement free education till the 12th standard.
Our Demand: Increase government spending to at least 6% of the GDP and 10% of the Central budget on education
Right Wing – Congress, TMC, BJP: A hollow promise that they’ve been making for more than half a century but have never kept.
Left Front’s Alternative Policies have voiced our demand.
Our demand: Stop the privatization and marketisation of Education
Right Wing – Congress, TMC, BJP are directly in favour of uncontrolled privatization. The Congress has passed bills like FDI in higher education that will further expose the student community to exploitation by businessmen.The TMC in its short reign in Bengal has passed three Private University Bills. The BJP promises to introduce reforms that will make profiteering in education easier.
Left Front’s Alternative Policies alone have supported this demand. It speaks of enacting legislation to regulate fees, admissions, and curricula at private institutions. During the Left Front’s rule in our state, private universities were not allowed to open shop. State universities maintained quality control and caps on tuition fees at private colleges to protect the interests of the students.
Our demand: Ensure Democracy in the campus
Right Wing – Congress, TMC, BJP: Students’ democratic rights are either non-existent or severely undermined throughout India under their rule. The TMC government in Bengal had scrapped students’ elections and was later forced to withdraw from their decision only by the uproar it caused among the students’ community here.
Left Front’s Alternative Policies promise to ensure democratic rights to all stake holders of educational institutions and make student union elections mandatory. The Left Front government in Bengal had upheld this promise three decades ago by introducing participatory democracy in all campuses.
Our demand: Right to work for all
Right Wing – Congress, TMC, BJP are for further reforms which will cause more jobless growth and further compromise social security.
Left Front’s Alternative Policies recognize the right to work as fundamental. It focuses on growth of heavy and manufacturing industries that can generate more jobs for the youth. It also upholds minimum wages, social security measures and proper enforcement of labour laws.
Our demand : Restructuring of Centre State relationships and bringing education back to the state list
Right Wing – Congress, TMC, BJP the Congress and BJP have constantly pushed for greater centralization. The TMC’s mode of running government in our state clearly shows their inclination towards absolute centralization.
Left Front’s Alternative Policies have called for a thorough restructuring in this matter.
Our demand: Struggle against fundamentalism and inequalities within the campus
Right Wing – Congress, TMC, BJP: The student community will flatly reject the BJP for the dangerously divisive identity politics it endorses. The TMC has also directly fanned identity politics in WB.
Left Front’s Alternative Policies takes a strong stand against communalism, for protecting the rights of the minorities and for enforcing equal rights for women, backward castes and classes. The long history of the Left Front and its constituent parties in supporting the struggles of these groups speaks of their commitment to this stand.
The more we look at the main policy questions that these elections are being fought on, and the more we relate to our own experiences in our state as well as nationally, we become convinced that sending Left Front candidates to parliament will ensure that our demands are voiced in Parliament.
The alternative policies that the Left Front has floated reflect the demands of the students’ community most closely. We believe that the Left Front has the potential to translate the students’ struggles in the campuses and on the streets into voices that can influence and direct policies at the centre.
Moreover, it seems apparent that the Left alternative can steer the country as a whole towards reducing the rich-poor divide, improving the living standards of our people, and empowering the people in general, just as it promises to empower the students. So, we have taken a stand in support of the Left Front in these elections. Our appeal goes out to the entire student community to choose the Left Front candidates as our representatives. In a country where every third person is a youth, our choice matters… we have the power to make a difference. The people of our country are standing at a fork in the road, the path on the right will heighten their miseries, and the path on the left will give them a weapon to fight back. Help them to choose what is right for them... Help them to choose Left.