When it comes to winning the Punjab University (PU) student council elections, there is a lot more to it than just campaigning. If leaders are to be believed, 'cross-voting' - in which internal rifts and disgruntled party leaders are used to get votes of supporters of another party - and unconditional supporters are the game changers in the elections.
NSUI's Punjab president, 25-year-old Daman Bajwa, describes 'unconditional supporters' as leaders who leave their party and declare their unconditional support for another party publically.
On how exactly the game is played, Bajwa says, "In politics, all means are tried. Finding the right link is the key. We even use family links to get things done. I share a family bond with Rimpy Brar, the SOPU chairman who defected to NSUI recently. When he told me that he did not like what was happening in SOPU, our party opened arms for him."
She says that such politics includes a lot of brainstorming and mental pressure. "You have to be on your toes. When a leader comes to you, the first thing to be done is call a press conference so the defector doesn't change his/her mind. He or she is continuously surrounded to keep him/her socially isolated."
But how easy is it to leave your own party? Bajwa replies, "For some, relationships matter more. Bribing, a trend that is prevalent in mainstream politics, is not here at the university level; that is a good sign."
Brar feels the defector is the one who suffers the most: "Secondly, his old party faces the loss while the new party is in a win-win situation. Now, with me joining NSUI, a minimum of 200 votes should be expected for the party. When requests are made for even a single vote, then who would mind getting such a benefit."
Senior PUSU leader Simranjit Singh Dhillon, however, disagrees if unconditional supporters can help. "Such political games are played in the last days. But it hardly affects the outcome. The only thing that is affected is the morale of workers."
Following the proverb of 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend', a senior SOPU leader, on account of anonymity, said, "Nowadays, a lot of internal issues lead to cross-voting. A leader who has some kind of a problem with a candidate of his party would never want him to win, and goes to any extent of letting the other party leader win."