The eviction drive taken at the highest level in the government has become a political issue as thousands of students affiliated to different unions and political parties have been resisting the attempt for the past two months.
Though the issue seems to be limited to university campuses, its impact surely is bigger. Major Opposition parties and splinter groups of the Left have set up tents on campus and have been organising protests that are being joined by legal boarders, too.
Sources said that the Chief Minister had received reports from the intelligence wing of the police that some students’ outfits were in touch with Opposition parties to work against the ruling TRS for the elections scheduled in 2019.
KCR is also fuming at the way he was prevented from speaking on 26 April at the OU centenary celebrations on campus, in which former President Pranab Mukherjee participated. He had to cancel his speech after the cops told him that there would be loud protests and heckling from students.
The students’ groups term the eviction drive as the Chief Minister’s vengeance against those who defy him. Their leaders say that KCR enjoyed their support to lead the separate statehood agitation spanning one-and-a-half decades, particularly from 2009, but betrayed them after he came to power following Telangana’s creation.
Deputy CM Kadiam Srihari, who holds the higher education portfolio and monitors the eviction drive, has accused the students of becoming pawns in the hands of the Opposition Congress, TDP and the Left. The authorities have called for police deployment which further aggravated the situation. OU Vice-Chancellor Prof V. Ramachandram told The Sunday Guardian that the drive to vacate non-boarders, who have completed their studies, but still staying in hostels, was meant to help the fresh students whose academic year begins in the first week of August.
Presently, there are 21 hostels with a capacity for 9,200 students, but already there are 10,000 students in the crammed rooms. Besides, around 4,000 non-boarders are overstaying in the campus hostels.
In a small single-cot room in Old PG Hostel that is meant for arts and humanities post-graduation students, there are two inmates. But, thanks to the pressure from non-boarders, three, and in some cases four persons, are also staying in the rooms, said a senior warden who refused to be identified.
Meanwhile, the ruling TRS has also floated a separate student wing affiliated to it–the Telangana Rashtra Vidyarthi Samithi (TRVS), with KCR’s son and IT minister K.T. Rama Rao (KTR) as its in-charge.
KTR’s task is to build TRVS as a strong force by the next general elections in 2019 with at least five lakh active members. Gellu Srinivas Yadav, a student leader from OU, has been appointed as TRVS president, who will report to KTR. KTR told the key activists of TRVS that those who contribute to the growth of this TRS affiliate would be rewarded with tickets in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. Two such students–V. Vasudeva Reddy and Ch. Rakesh—have been appointed chairmen of two state corporations last week.