Over 15,000 students will decide the fate of 25 candidates contesting for the posts of president, vice-president, secretary and joint secretary for Panjab University Campus Students’ Council (PUCSC), the voting for which will take place on Wednesday.
There are seven candidates for the president’s post, five for vice-president’s, six for secretary’s and seven for joint secretary. The results will be out by 8pm.
The contest is among three main alliances led by National Students Union of India (NSUI), Students Organisation of India (SOI) and Panjab University Students Union (PUSU). Students For Society (SFS) is fighting for the president’s post only.
NSUI is the student wing of the Congress and SOI has allegiance with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
The SOI-led alliance had won all the 4 seats in the student council election last year. This was the first victory of the party on the campus. The incumbent president, SOI’s Jasmeen Kang, a PhD student, had won by the biggest ever margin of 1,436 votes. Vice-president Preeti Negi, who was from SOI alliance partner Himachal Students Union (HIMSU), had even won by a still higher margin of 1,688 votes.
This time HIMSU has tied up with NSUI, but then SOI has joined hands with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
After last year’s landslide victory, SOI’s Chandigarh unit president Vicky Middukhera has been leading from the front once again. SOI’s national convener Parambans Singh Bunty Romana, who is chairman of the Youth Development Board in Punjab, had addressed all the press conferences of SOI. He had gone on record to say that victory on PU campus will give an advantage to the Akali Dal in the upcoming Punjab assembly elections.
Like last year when NSUI’s presidential candidate was declared ineligible, this time too, the party had a disastrous start. At least twice, faction led by Manoj Lubana and Rohit Rana-Hardeep Singh Lalli clashed on the campus. A breakaway faction took birth in NSUI Student Front that tied up with Panjab University Students Union (PUSU). This led to infighting in the Congress and National Youth Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring had to suspend Brinder Dhillon, the Youth Congress president for Anandpur Sahib Lok Sabha seat, for he was supporting the rebel faction.
A number of leaders from SOPU had joined NSUI in 2012 during Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the PU. After that it won president’s post twice in 2013 and 2014, but in 2015, it was poor third.
This year, NSUI has fielded a woman, Siya Minocha, as its presidential candidate. Unlike last year, NSUI started early this year. They also organised a ‘Save PU’ campaign and raised the issue of fund crunch in the varsity. Some Congress leaders too had visited the campus.
PUSU, one of the oldest student parties on PU campus, had suffered five consecutive defeats. The last time it had won president’s post was in 2010.
SFS has fielded the lone candidate in Amritpal Singh for the president’s post. This is the second election of the party.
NSUI has brought out a separate manifesto for women and challenged SOI on financial crunch and fee hike. SOI has promised a senate seat for the student council president and strengthening of the teachers’ evaluation system. PUSU relies on being the only party exclusively for students and SFS talks of ideology and student-centric issues.
University Institute of Engineering and Technology (UIET) which has about 2,500 votes could be the deciding factor. From the major alliances, this time there is just one UIET candidate Amit Kaushik, who is fighting for the joint secretary’s post from PUSU-led alliance. Others from the UIET are Rajan Kumar Gupta of Yuwa for president’s post, Prince Attrey for secretary’s post and Yuwa’s Akhilesh Kumar for joint secretary’s post.
Both NSUI and PUSU have presidential candidates hailing from Himachal Pradesh (HP), so votes of students from the hill state will get divided.