In a development that looks set to change the face of campus politics at Panjab University, and would also have a bearing on youth politics in the region, a number of top leaders of the Student Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU) and Panjab University Student Union (PUSU), are joining the Student Organisation of India (SOI), a wing of Punjab's ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
The function for formal joining is slated to be held on the PU campus on Wednesday. A top Akali Dal leader is likely to attend and may also announce holding of student council elections in Punjab, which have not been held since the 1980s' militancy; the latter could not be independently confirmed.
Even as student leaders refused to come on record, those who are likely to join the SOI are PUSU's president Yadvinder Singh along with many executive members of the campus unit. SOPU leaders Robin Brar and Rashpal Hakkuwala, with a number of executive members, are also going to the SOI fold, it is learnt.
Yadvinder has been the primary face of PUSU for years. As of Robin Brar, he is a former president of SOPU, and Rashpal Hakuwala is the incumbent party president. Brar and Hakuwala were at the forefront of the SOPU campaign even after several of the party's top leaders defected to Congress wing National Students' Union of India (NSUI) in 2012.
The latest defections are coming not long after SOPU and PUSU faced humiliating defeat in the campus student council elections last year. It was almost after a decade that both parties failed to win even a single seat in the council. Student wings of mainstream political parties shared the pie - NSUI had bagged the posts of president and joint secretary, while the post of vice-president went to the Indian National Students' Organisation (INSO), a wing of Haryana-based party Indian National Lok Dal, and the secretary's post went to the SOI.
SOPU and PUSU were founded in the 1990s, and dominated campus politics for years. It was only in recent years that mainstream political parties started focussing on PU. Some prominent faces of SOPU and PUSU had joined the NSUI in the presence of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in October 2012 when the party was formally re-launched. The SOI and INSO have had a presence but failed to make a big splash so far.