The realm of history of student politics in Udaipur dates back to more than half a century. UdaipurTimes, in its endeavor to highlight the history of Student Union elections in Udaipur, will be bringing to you interactions with the legacy leaders of the Student Unions in Udaipur.
In the first interaction of its kind in Udaipur, Sohail Khan of UdaipurTimes met Chandra Singh Kothari, ex-Mayor of Udaipur Municipal Corporation and a legendary leader in student politics of Mewar. Kothari was the President of the student council at the university of Udaipur back in 1978. The elections of 1978 were the first student elections to be held in Udaipur after the Emergency. Political emotions and temers were at their peak then.
Kothari explained that the current Mohan Lal Sukhadiya University (MLSU) was once called University of Udaipur (1978). Back then, student leaders and party workers used to travel on foot and cycles for publicity and campaigning, as motor vehicles were a rare commodity. He added that due to the development of technology, and access to huge amounts of money, the situation has significantly changed over the years.
“Technology was a big zero then, and only pamphlets, posters , banners and face to face interactions were the means of campaigning and publicity” – ex- Mayor Kothari.
How were election campaigns held in the seventies?
Each college had their own methods for election publicity, Kothari said. Citing a few examples, he said that MG college permitted class-to-class campaigning, while the College of Home Science allowed to organize a mass meetings in the college premises. Vehicles were also not widely available to many people, so they went to each and every area on bicycles to promote their party.
“Our campaigning was more rigorous than that of MLA candidates, as our vote bank was not limited to specific constituencies” – Chandra Singh Kothari
In those days, rivals would campaign together, said Kothari. After the elections however, the opponents parted ways.
Political pressure in the 1978 Student Union Elections
Chandra Singh Kothari, who was an ABVP candidate, won the elections of 1978, beating the favorite candidate. The ABVP was leading in Jaipur as well and the Vice Chancellor had cancelled the elections, succumbing to political pressure. In Udaipur, the counting began at 1:30am. It was apparent that Kothari was leading and the Vice Chancellor of Univ. of Udaipur was under the same political pressure and attempted at cancelling the elections. However, the party workers and leaders countered the pressure and made sure that the counting was done and results were announced. The results were announced at 3am. Party workers from the opponent side also stole ballot boxes, but by then the results were declared on paper. Hence this did not make a difference to the election results.
"Opposition was surprised at the loss and could not digest the humiliating defeat. After winning the election, our first meeting was held at MB College, and the opposition's attitude was not favorable. They devised a plan to prevent the party members from working amicably. I was called by Udaipur Collector to resign from the post of President because the situation worsening in the University campuses. However, my party did not succumb and I refused to resign.” - Kothari
Interesting incidents from the 1978 student union election
Chandra Singh Kothari was asked about some of the incidents he remembered that happened back in 1978 student election. He spoke about two occurrences. In the first, students at the Home Science College were yelling that they didn't want to listen to any speeches during the mass meeting. He got up on stage and asked them to at least let the candidates speak, and they all agreed. The second memory was at Mira Girls College where he was asked to sing instead of giving a speech.
Oath Taking in 1978
The political pressure and unfavorable approach of the opposition led us to conduct the oath taking at a small private ceremony at the City Palace in Udaipur, under the auspices of the Maharaja of udaipur and in the presence of the DSW.
On modern day student politics
Kothari said that nowadays everything is a lot simpler than it was before. Elections are easily held in today's technologically advanced society, and candidates have easy access to resources like finance and transportation. Without a doubt, student candidates today are exploiting voters with money and freebies in their thirst for gaining votes from them. They use unfair means like giving people bribes, throwing big parties before the election, and making fake promises. It has been observed that candidates solve all student issues before the elections, but as soon as they are selected for the position, everything suddenly falls out of favor.