The Students' Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU) won a consecutive victory last year but saw its elected president, Satinder Satti, and a large number of tall leaders defect to the National Students's Union of India (NSUI) when Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi came to PU and re-launched his party's student wing barely a month after the elections.
Now, while SOPU would be looking to score a hat-trick against such odds, its traditional rival, the Panjab University Students' Union (PUSU), is also battling for survival. Observers say that after two consecutive defeats, it would be difficult for PUSU to keep its cadres' morale high, particularly when wings of national mainstream parties are back on campus in a big way.
Hence, much is at stake when the 13,556 students on the campus - number revised upwards by 14 after a final check -- vote in a new four-member student council.
PUSU has its own share of internal woes. Last week, its campus president Gur Arinder Minhas turned up at the NSUI tent and announced unconditional support to the NSUI candidate.
The NSUI, bolstered by the many prominent faces of SOPU - Brinder Dhillon, Harpreet Multani and Dalvir Singh Khangura 'Goldy' -is now a serious contender.
Many of these leaders who left SOPU for the Congress wing had been devising successful strategies for SOPU for years.
To defeat the NSUI - being seen as a 'party of defectors' and behemoth out to devour smaller groups -parties like the Indian National Students' Organisation (INSO), Hindustan Student Association (HAS) and Student Organisation of India (SOI), the Shiromani Akali Dal's student wing, have allied with the homegrown parties.
Last year, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), which is the student wing of the BJP, and INSO, the student wing of the Chautalas' Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), had fought the elections independently but have now allied with PUSU along with the National Students' Organisation (NSO). The HSA and SOI, along with the Himachal Pradesh Students' Union (HPSU) are with SOPU.
The NSUI, on its part, has an alliance with the Himachal Students' Union (HIMSU) and its presidential candidate, Chandan Rana, is also from the hill state.
The trends within politics aside, the university officials are happy that in the past three years no major violence has been witnessed. Many believe that this year was the quietest in terms of rallies and campaigns.