With just a day left for the PU student polls, candidates are leaving no stone unturned to ensure support from their respective departments and hostels. But what continues to be a major setback during the polls, especially in colleges, is the low percentage of students who turn up for voting on the poll day. This pattern has been specifically noticed in Chandigarh's girls colleges as most of these students end up treating it like a holiday.
Will the revised date help?
Although this year, the university had sent a proposal to the administration to revise the poll date, which was scheduled to be on August 28. Student leaders had objected to it being close to the Raksha Bandhan weekend. The mid-week poll is expected to generate a better polling percentage as compared to previous years, when polls were conducted on Fridays. But, whether the same will be replicated in PU-affiliated colleges is yet to be seen.
No serious business for girls
Girls’ turnout on the polling day, August 26, is giving the three presidential candidates of the Post Graduate Government College for Girls, Sector 42, sleepless nights. “We have been requesting girls to stay back, but many of them have already started going home as they don’t take these polls seriously,” said Gurpreet Kaur, one of the presidential candidates. Her opponent Nancy Chhabra feels even jealousy prevents women from staying away from college during elections. “Many girls don’t like to see their friends make a mark, so one has to really plead with them to stay back and vote, even if it is for another candidate, as long as the participation increases.”
Rekha, a BSc student, believes if the elected candidate brings about the change required, it could lead in greater participation from students across various departments. Similarly, Antpreet Kaur of MCM, who has been unanimously elected as president of her college, told HT: “It’s very disheartening as one works so hard and campaigns from room-to-room, but students feel it makes no difference if they don’t vote.”
Meanwhile, dean student welfare, Dev Samaj College, Sector 45, Dr Poonam Gupta feels bringing deserving student in the council hasn’t helped. “In the past four years, the turnout has been about 40-45%. Lets hope things are different this time,” she said.
At GCG-42, the voting turnout has increased from 600 votes in 2010 to 900 in 2011 to 1,600 in 2014, said Mohit Verma from the college’s election committee. Since SGGS, Sector 26, and DAV College, Sector 10, are known to be relatively more active than other city-based colleges during elections, student leaders end up winning by a relatively higher margin here as compared to girls colleges.
Finding a solution
According to Verma, who is also among the founding members of the NSUI party and has been actively involved in the election process for 10 years, ‘encouraging a larger number of girls to contest elections can go a long way in increasing their participation and bring about a sense of responsibility among them. “Use of social media has also helped reach out to a large number of people this time,” he added. Another GCG-11 student said, “If those contesting prove their caliber by taking up our problems, we might get motivated to vote in large numbers next year.”
Inputs from Aastha Sharma