Local nightclubs, multiplexes and transport agencies are making hay as the campaign for the Panjab University Campus Students' Union (PUCSU) polls enters its final phase.
Political parties are arranging free movie shows, dance parties and trips to nearby tourist destinations like Kasauli and Dharampur in Himachal Pradesh and Morni Hills in Haryana to woo potential voters.
Panjab University (PU) elections are slated on Friday and university authorities have made it clear to all candidates that the elections will be carried out strictly following the Supreme Court's guidelines and the Lyngdoh committee's recommendations on students' union polls.
This year the four major groups contesting PUCSU elections are Panjab University Students Union (PUSU), Student Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU), Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and Indian National Student Organisation (INSO).
"There was a bulk booking of tickets on Tuesday by a political party of Panjab University. More than 100 tickets were booked for two movies each including a Punjabi flick," a senior official of PVR cinema in Chandigarh told IANS.
Political parties have arranged special air-conditioned buses to transport students to the multiplexes or for the outstation trips.
"Our club is booked for the last five-six days for both day and night parties and we are expecting the same rush for the next two days. All these parties have been booked by the students of PU," said Raghu Sharma, manager of a nightclub in Chandigarh's Sector 9.
All these activities are in violation of the Lyngdoh committee recommendations and of the university's code of conduct that says all corrupt activities aimed at intimidation or bribing voters are prohibited.
The Lyngdoh committee also recommended restricting the campaign budget to Rs 5,000 per candidate. Students here say the budget has been crossed many many times over by now.
They say liquor is also being supplied to students in hostel rooms and parties are being arranged at local restaurants to woo the voters.
"Elections here in PU could not be possible in Rs 5,000. We have to spend huge sums on petrol and on various other things. We know that this is illegal but we cannot help as every other party in the campus is doing it," a senior leader of PUSU told IANS on condition of anonymity.
"We have special tie-ups with local travel agents, restaurants and nightclubs in Chandigarh as we avail their services every year during students' polls," he added.
"For many years the PU elections have become the platform for the students to showcase their money and muscle power. Money is spent like anything and there is no check on it. All the claims of PU authorities remained only on paper and nobody bothers to implement them," said Amit Sharma, former student leader of PU.
Around 9,000 students study at the PU campus in Chandigarh that is spread over 550 acres in Sector 14 and Sector 25 in Chandigarh. The university has around 60 teaching and research departments and over 170 colleges are affiliated to it.
Panjab University is one of the oldest universities in India, being established in 1882 at Lahore. It was relocated to Chandigarh in 1956.