Elections for the four posts in the Panjab University Campus Students’ Council (PUCSC) is turning out to be a prestige issue for the ruling alliance party in Punjab, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
The SAD is taking all steps to ensure that its student wing, the Student Organisation of India (SOI) is victorious in the PU elections. The local Akali leaders are approaching the parents of the students active in university politics hailing from Punjab to convince their wards to join the SOI and are not even shying away from issuing threats.
Students are alleging that the tactic is working.
Panjab University Student Union (PUSU) president Sahejpal Singh’s absence from electioneering for the past four days is being attributed to SAD influencing his family to call him back. Singh is son of a truck union leader in Mansa in Punjab.
“Sahejpal’s family got calls from local SAD leaders to tell him to stay away from the elections. He was called back by his parents last week,” said Satinder Singh, a senior office bearer of PUSU.
“My family was approached by an Akali leader through our relative that I should join SOI or my family should be ready for the consequences,” said PUSU chairman Harshpreet Singh. He said that his father was a member of the Akali Dal’s Mohali unit, but it did not mean that he should join the SOI.
“This is the dirty politics by the Akalis. We, as students have our own independent views. We are fighting the elections for students’ welfare and not for personal ambitions,” he added.
HT has learnt that student leaders, especially from PUSU, the Student Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU Mann group) and Gandhi Group Students Union (GGSU) are being approached by Akali leaders.
Students have also alleged that in some cases, police have threatened to reopen cases against students if they did not join the SOI. Students claim that the pressure is working as two senior PUSU leaders, including Gaurav Lucky, joined the SOI on Tuesday. “These leaders had police cases pending against them. They were called to the police station and directed to join the SOI or cases would be re-opened against them,” alleged Satinder Singh of PUSU.
When contacted, Mohali SSP Inder Mohan Singh said: “Gaurav’s case is under investigation. We called him to the station and if required, he will be called again.”
In February, the SOI was re-launched by Punjab revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia with top leadership from Student Organisation of Punjab University (SOPU) and PUSU joining the party.
Another group GGSU is also alleging that its members are being pressured and their parents being contacted to join the SOI. “I was approached to join the SOI and told that they will help me in setting up business and get me a job or give me a political post in Punjab. I did not yield,” Shanky Dhiman, in charge, GGSU campus unit said.
Families of girl leaders and students are also being approached to call them home during elections.
“Families are being approached to call back their daughters. Parents are being told that during elections violence was apprehended,” a girl PUSU leader told Hindustan Times who, adding that girl leaders’ families were scared.
Capt accuses Sukhbir, Majithia of meddling
Congress deputy leader in Lok Sabha Capt Amarinder Singh on Wednesday accused deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and revenue minister Bikram Majithia of interfering in PU student elections, warning them against such a move. “Do not spoil the university atmosphere and let the students contest and vote independently,” he said in a statement.
Amarinder said that he was told that Sukhbir and Majithia had started resorting to tricks by using police officials, MLAs and other politicians to intimidate voters.
“Since in this case it is the students only, they (Sukhbir and Majithia) are not even letting them contest freely,” he said, while asserting that the police officials and Akali MLAs were trying to build up pressure on the parents of the National Students Union of India (NSUI) supporters.
“They are using the Student Organisation of India (SOI) workers, most of whom are not even students, to pressure and intimidate NSUI supporters. I have already the details of every official and MLA who is trying to intimidate the students.”
Amarinder, presently in London giving finishing touches to his book on India’s contribution to
World War I, specially called up NSUI campaign committee chairman Bindu Grewal, assuring him to contest the elections without any fear, a party spokesman added.