With less than a week to go to Panjab University's Students' Council elections, prominent student parties are making last ditch efforts to forge a political alliance with smaller student groups. According to the election schedule, the candidates have to file nominations by Wednesday and can withdraw their candidature by 11:30 on Thursday. This leaves the parties only one-and-a half day to woo the smaller groups to join them and contest the elections.
National Students Union of India
To tap the votes of the students hailing from Himachal Pradesh, National Students Union of India (NSUI) has already tied up with Himachal Pradesh Students Association (HPSA). About 20% of students on campus hail from Himachal Pradesh. HPSA's Anil Sharma had fought for the president's post in 2014 and was a close third.
NSUI is eying to capture votes from sciences block which is a stronghold of HPSA. In the last elections, PUSU had aligned with HPSA and had an impressive showing at science block.
Aware of the small groups' importance during the polls, NSUI is keen to associate a maximum number of parties with itself. "We are talking to some parties but we have not finalised anything yet," said Brinder Dhillion, who is managing elections for NSUI at the campus.
Dhillion however did not rule out the possibility of NSUI contesting the elections by itself. "We may go solo also. Last time too, we had gone with a smaller alliance group whereas Students Organisation of India (SOI) had formed a four-party alliance. Sometimes, smaller parties are not able to get the votes for the bigger partner," said Dhillion.
NSUI may also look to forge an alliance with the Hindustan Students Association (HSA)-Yuwa group to strengthen its chances of winning. HSA-Yuwa has a strong backing among students from Haryana who are said to form about 20% of the electorate
Students Organisation of India
Students Organisation of India (SOI), which is the students' wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), has so far aligned with the Himachal Students Union (HIMSU), which had been NSUI's partner for the last two years. Commenting on HIMSU's change of alliance, party's chairman Anshul Nainta said that they also had to keep their own prospects of winning in mind before collaborating with any party.
SOI could also join hands with the Indian National Students' Organisation (INSO) and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). "So far we haven't decided about aligning with any other party except HIMSU. The talks are going on. The smaller groups do give one an edge during the polls," said SOI leader Vikramjit Singh Middukhera.
Last year, SOI had contested in an alliance with INSO, YUWA and SOPU (Karamuwalia group) but had lost all the seats.
Panjab University Students Union (PUSU) has so far not aligned with anyone. "We have not aligned with anyone. Anyone who matches our principles, we will go with them," said PUSU press secretary Hardik Ahluwalia.
Commenting on the prospects of future alliances, ABVP's campus president Arshnoor said, "We are still looking at our options. We haven't decided yet." ABVP had fought the last election alone and their candidate had got 919 for the post of vice-president.
Box The kingmakers
ABVP supporters campaigning for the party ahead of the student elections at Punjab University, Chandigarh on Tuesday. (Keshav Singh/HT)
HSA, which has a strong hold over students from Haryana, was formed in 2009 and had fought the 2012 and 2013 elections alongside the Students Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU). In 2014, it contested the elections as an ally of the Panjab University Students Union (PUSU). Yuwa, a UIET-based students' group, has aligned with the HSA .
"We are the deciding factor. We have got offers from NSUI, SOI and PUSU. We are yet to take the decision. We have grown in strength this year. We have vote in all the departments," said Amit Simhar, election-in-charge of HSA.
SFS not to support anyone
Arishdeep, chairman of Students for Society (SFS), said, "We are not supporting anyone. Rumours are being spread that we are supporting a particular group which is false." SFS last year got 1,334 votes but this year decided not to contest elections.