You may not remember the name of the PU student council president, but there are some people you associate immediately with campus politics in Chandigarh.
They may not be able to contest elections, thanks to strict Lyngdoh Committee guidelines over criminal cases and attendance norms, but real power remains with these leaders even when the posts go mostly to 'dummy' candidates. Some have passed out but remain on campus, while others take admission in one course after the other just to remain relevant. Meet the 'godfathers':
*Brinder Dhillon, NSUI: He is 28 now, and comes from an Amritsar-native business family settled in Chandigarh. He has no political background, but led the mass defection of SOPU leaders to the NSUI when the Congress re-launched the latter on PU campus last year. Now, he is national coordinator of the NSUI.
Dhillon served as SOPU college president in DAV College in 2005, and then overall SOPU president in 2008 and 2009. With politics came fights and criminal cases - there were nine, down to four now, he says. He claims he doesn't need family money as he runs an event management company. He loves to travel in his beloved Ford Endeavour SUV. Asked when he plans to leave the campus for good, he smiles, "When studies are over."
Rather poetically, he is enrolled in a diploma in lifelong learning at PU. He tried his hands in BSc in computers at DAV College, but passed out with arts eventually in 2006. After two attempts, he finally got into the law course on campus in 2008. He is struggling to complete that too.
*Vikramjit Singh Middukhera, SOPU: The 26-year-old son of a Muktsar farmer and local leader, he is among the main activists of SOPU. Seen as aggressive, he was SOPU chairman (Chandigarh colleges) in 2005-06, and later remained campus incharge in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, he became SOPU state president. He has at least two criminal cases against him, likes Rado watches and drives an Innova.
He completed his BA from DAV College in 2007, got enrolled in MA (public administration) in 2008, and after passing that he is now pursuing MA in defence studies.
*Sukhjit Brar, PUSU: A farmer's son from Bathinda, 25-year-old Sukhjit rose from being a party worker in his college days to being the state president of PUSU now. An impressive orator, he is known to have led almost 50 protests on the campus and claims to have sat on six hunger strikes in the past two years. He faces three criminal cases, too. While others may see a future in politics, he insists that his "priority for now remains student welfare".
After getting his BA from Government College, Sector 11, he first enrolled in the law department in 2009. While he says some re-appear exams are pending there, he is now enrolled in MA in history since last year.
*Rashpal Hakuwala, SOPU: The 25-year-old is the son of a farmer from Muktsar. Considered extremely aggressive, he is the SOPU president. He has two cases against him and is known to have a short temper. But his style of working means he is popular among the party workers. "My parents have faith in me. I know where to draw the line. I will leave politics at the right time," he says.
He completed his BA from DAV College in 2007 and got enrolled in MA Punjabi but could not complete it. Now he is admitted for a diploma course in Urdu.