KSU to go on indefinite hunger strike as row erupts over recounting of votes in Kerala Varma College election in Thrissur

The KSU alleged political sabotage by the Left student organisation during the midnight recounting of the election results.

ByMuhammed Fazil

Published Nov 02, 2023 | 7:02 PMUpdatedNov 02, 2023 | 7:05 PM

Kerala Varma College election

The college union election of Kerala Varma College in Thrissur is embroiled in a controversy as the result was changed following recounting of votes.

The candidate put forward by the Students Federation of India (SFI), which is student’s wing of the ruling CPI (M), was declared elected chairperson of the college union after the recounting of the votes, which was carried out in the midnight on Wednesday, 1 November.

Earlier, the candidate from Kerala Students Union (KSU), which is the students’ wing of the Congress, had been declared the winner. The KSU now alleges political sabotage by the Left wing student organisation.

According to sources, the votes were counted three times with the KSU candidate Sreekuttan Sivadasan declared the winner the first time, which was revoked later and the SFI candidate, Anirudhan, came on top after the recounting of votes.

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KSU president announces hunger strike

While KSU state president Aloshious Xavier announced an indefinite hunger strike in front of the Corporation Office in Thrissur starting Thursday night, KPCC chief K Sudhakaran assured all support to KSU’s legal fight against the result announced after the recounting of votes.

“In the initial result declared by the college, our candidate Sreekuttan had won with the lead of one vote. However, the SFI demanded recounting of votes and the authorities agreed to it,” Xavier told South First.

“The authorities then declared that the SFI candidate had won with a margin of 11 votes,” he added.

He alleged that during the recounting process, many votes polled by the SFI members, which were deemed invalid earlier, were taken into account.

The opposite was done with the KSU votes, some of which were deemed invalid, Xavier alleged.

Asserting that justice would prevail, Xavier said that these moves, by the opponents who “forgot the democratic values”, would be countered legally.

The issue

The KSU said its candidate, Sivadasan, a blind student, had ended the four-decade-long reign of the SFI in the college by defeating its candidate, Anirudhan, in a neck-and-neck race.

Jubilant KSU workers celebrated Sivadasan’s victory by raising slogans and distributing sweets in the college which is managed by the Cochin Devaswom Board.

Stung by the unexpected turn of events, the SFI activists demanded a recount of votes, which the management agreed to do.

Though a recount of votes was held in the evening, it was stopped midway following a protest by KSU activists. They alleged that the returning officer was the leader of a pro-Left union.

After the recounting of votes, Anirudhan was declared the winner by a margin of 11 votes.

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‘Sabotage of democratic victory’

Coming down heavily on the recounting, senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly VD Satheesan termed it as “sabotage” of democratic victory.

In a hard-hitting post on Facebook, Satheesan said that Sivadasan’s win was the victory of democracy, and it was the decision of the students of the Kerala Varma College.

However, unable to accept KSU’s victory, SFI sabotaged it through a midnight recounting, he alleged. Some politically biased faculty members of the college also supported it, he claimed.

There were two power cuts during the recounting, and the SFI activists, who rushed to the hall, “butchered democracy” in those periods, he alleged.

The fight, showcased by Sivadasan and the KSU, would remain an unparalleled episode in the history of the college, the LoP added.

‘As per CPI(M) directive’

Sharing similar sentiments, Congress Leader K Sudhakaran told reporters in Pathanamthitta that “sabotaging” the election result through recounting of votes was an “anti-democratic” act which could not be accepted.

He accused the returning officer, a faculty member of the college, of unilaterally rejecting the request by the KSU to conduct the recounting during the daytime. “This (recounting of votes in the middle of the night) is as per the directive of the ruling CPI(M),” he alleged.

The SFI has actually sabotaged democracy, the Congress leader said and accused both the Marxist party and its youth wing of being anti-democratic.

However, the SFI leadership denied the charges and claimed that they had demanded the recounting of votes as both the candidates had garnered equal numbers of votes.

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Response from the college

As the issue triggered a huge row, TD Shobha, principal-in-charge of Kerala Varma College, said that even though the recounting was stopped mid-way due to some dispute between the two parties, it was resumed later at the insistence of the president of the Cochin Devaswom Board.

“He said there is no need to stop the recounting…let it continue,” she told the media.

When the president, who is also the manager of the college, asked her to do something, there was no way other than to obey it, she said.

The returning officer was informed about the chairman’s directive and he later continued the recounting, the principal-in-charge added.

SFI sources, however, said the KSU workers had started their victory celebrations before the culmination of the counting of votes.

(With PTI inputs)