Exams in Oct, colleges and schools say no poll rallies

Parties in tizzy as edu institutes refuse to allow campaign speeches on premises for Oct 13 Khadakwasla by-election

Authorities at schools and colleges in the city are not willing to extend the use of their premises to political parties for campaign rallies for the October 13 Khadakwasla assembly bypoll. The reason is that October is the month of semester examinations in various schools and colleges.

Unwelcome: School officials say political rallies often result in garbage
and filth left strewn around the venue. Representation pic

Under the code of conduct declared by the State Election Commission, no candidate can hold a rally or give a public speech in a chowk or on a road without the permission of the police. Now, the unwillingness of educational institutions to provide their premises for rallies and the code of conduct have together put political parties in a tizzy. "We are not willing to provide our ground for any kind of political campaign. Although we have a huge ground, it's surrounded by four educational institutions. After such rallies, garbage and filth is left strewn around the venue. If any proposal comes to the committee, we will jointly take a decision on it," said Nanda Mane, secretary of Shikshan Prasarak Mandali.

There are also some educational institutions that never make available their premises for political rallies.
"We never provide our premises to any political party to hold their rallies. They use loudspeakers, which disturbs our students," said Principal Madhura Kulkarni of NMV Girl's High School on Tilak Road.

BJP city president Vikas Mathkari said elections were a vital part of a democracy and educational institutes should think of this as well as the inconvenience the general public is saved when rallies are held on school or college grounds rather than elsewhere.

"Open grounds are scarce in the city, so ultimately we have to use school or college premises to reach the masses. Elections are not just for any political party. People's involvement is always expected and educational institutions should get involved in the democratic process by providing us their grounds," said Mathkari. "After all, we are not asking for it during their teaching hours."

Grounds of educational institutions in the city have always been used by political parties for campaign rallies in the past. Some of the bigger grounds that are popular with parties are those at Shri Shivaji Preparatory Military School (SSPMS), New English School (Tilak Road), Raman Baug High School and Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce.

"Such (school or college) venues are located in the middle of the city, so it's easy for us as well as for the people to commute. We are ready to hold our rallies once the school or college classes get over. Although we believe in door-to-door campaigning, we will face a major problem if educational institutions deny us the use of their premises," said Rupali Chakankar, campaign head of the NCP candidate in the Khadakwasla bypoll.

No ban on use of schools, colleges
ASSISTANT Returning Officer Vijaya Pangarkar said the office of the Returning Officer had not received any directive from the State Election Commission (SEC) banning campaigning on school or college premises. "If we receive any order of the kind from the SEC, we will effectively follow the instructions," she said.

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