Throughout its campaign, the Panjab University Students’ Union (PUSU) hammered home this message: vote for a students’ party, not a political party. And it paid off. The PUCSC results are a victory for the students and a rebuff to politicians, as PUSU, an old student party on the campus, emerged victorious.
Neither the ‘money power’ worked for the SAD-backed SOI nor could the Congress’ big leaders pull it off for their student wing, NSUI. The student wings of the two major political parties never looked like winning.
Claiming to be representatives of students minus the politicians, PUSU did ally with a splinter group of NSUI. But they had categorically declared they are the dominant party in the alliance. “A lot of students say that independent student parties like ours form alliances with student parties which have political affiliations. Well, that is only done when a party comes to us rather than the other way round. In that case, we are the dominant party,” said PUSU president Nirjog Singh Mann in his ‘open letter’.
The upsurge of the SFS came as a surprise. The leftists’ party almost did it but was let down in the end by its lack of support in a few key departments.
Observers point out that SFS’s ‘Inquilaab Zindabad’ slogans have been echoing on the campus in the recent months as it protested sedition cases against JNU student president Kanhaiya Kumar and atrocities against Dalits in Punjab. But they say they never thought they had this kind of backing among students.
Before results, the Congress leaders were aware that their own people had hurt the party’s chances by forming a splinter group. A couple of days ahead of the polling day, Youth Congress president Amrinder Raja Warring suspended Brinder Dhillon believed to have caused the split. But this, many said, would only harm the party’s chances.
The poll was being seen as a battleground between the Akalis and the Congress both of whom desperately wanted a win as it would have boosted their morale and given something to flaunt during the upcoming assembly polls. But having been handed a humbling defeat, some of their leaders are understandably dismissive, describing it as a local students’ poll. They can do that or take a lesson or two, ahead of the all-important Punjab polls, the choice is theirs.