Newspapers are loaded with stuff on student council elections. Everything what student leaders are saying is being keenly observed, parties are entering into all sorts of alliances and promises to wrest power.
We called all major alliances, including Student Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU), Panjab University Student Union (PUSU) and National Student Union of India (NSUI) and Student Federation of India (SFI) for an interactive session, however, only NSUI alliance presidential candidate, Chandan Rana and SFI presidential candidate, Navjot Kaur (along with the Navkiran Natt, AISA president) turned up. While some were confident, some were not sure of their agendas. We asked them a few questions, this is what they said:
Your agenda for polls:
SFI alliance: Our main agenda is student welfare. Be it hostel issue, fees or girls empowerment. Politics here have become politics of the elite. We want to take up issues of students from downtrodden sections.
NSUI: We want the fee structure of self-fiancéd courses to be lowered and the overall development of infrastructure. Up gradation of syllabus is our main concern.
SFI: Several guidelines should be changed as they are impractical to follow.
NSUI: Lyngdoh Commission has brought several good things in campus politics. Earlier, a lot of students, who were into academics only, are now taking interest in politics. But certain guidelines should be changed, with time everything changes, so should be the guidelines.
Representation for girls
SFI: It is tokenism in most parties such as our society. PU politics has always remained male dominated. We are fighting elections to give girls a voice, which is why we did not join an alliance.
NSUI: We have re-launched the party. We need to strengthen ourselves. We do care for girl empowerment and in future we might float girls as presidential candidate.
Reason for leadership vacuum
SFI: We are new, but may be old leaders were good in implementing things.
NSUI: No there is no vacuum in leadership. We have seniors who guide us. Student leaders are there but they may not be that effective as it takes time to establish oneself. In some way Lyngdoh has also contributed in it.
Social media and its impact
SFI: We have seen how the youngsters reacted to Delhi gang-rape incident and some other cases in the recent past. Several parties' leadership has failed in bringing the anger onto streets.
NSUI: We are able to reach out to more people now due to this. But still need the ability to convert social media reactions into votes and ensure their participation when it comes to bringing them out on roads.
What voters want?
SFI: Votes are polled on ideologies. We are striving to make a mark here. We want to make our presence felt so that the down-trodden get a voice in future. In other universities, we are doing well. In due course of time, we will make a mark here as well.
NSUI: Students vote those who work for them. If somebody becomes active prior to elections only, the party would not be voted. Students are smart enough to judge whom to vote for.
Many new parties
SFI: Leadership has failed to impress students and have failed to meet their expectations at PU.
NSUI: There are some people who want to be a leader. If he is not accommodated, he floats his own party. But I don't think it is because of regionalism.
SFI: We collect funds from friends and through door-to-door visits. But there are some parties, who have patrons and are spending lakhs.
NSUI: It is wrong that we are spending lakhs. Lyngdoh guidelines in this regard needs to be changed. They were issued in 2007 and now time has come to change them.
SFI: There is too much of police interference on the campus. Police should intervene only if there are heinous crimes. They should not be allowed to interfere in day-to-day functioning. A number of incidents are there where false cases have been registered by the police.
NSUI: Outsiders are responsible for the violence on campus. Minor brawls do happen between insiders but in most of the cases, the outsiders are responsible for it.
SFI: It should be revived. If there is violence on the campus the responsibility of leaders should be fixed.
NSUI: We are for open house. It gives student leaders a chance to put forth their views.