D-Day is here! Panjab University elects its student council today
As many as 179 voting booths have been set up in various departments as Panjab University goes to the polls on Wednesday
Twenty-one candidates in the race to make it to the Panjab University Campus Students Council (PUCSC) and others hoping to serve as department representatives will be watching anxiously as 15,693 eligible voters hit the ballot rooms today.
As many as 179 voting booths have been set up in various departments as PU goes to the polls on Wednesday.
There are nine candidates vying for the president’s post and four candidates each for the post of vice-president, secretary and joint-secretary of PUCSC. Out of the 21, only four are women.
Simultaneously, the voting to elect 68 department representatives (DRs) will also be held in 29 departments while in 40 departments, 58 DRs have been elected unopposed.
The Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti (CYSS), which had won the president’s post in their debutant poll in 2022, will aim to repeat their performance this year as they contest for the president’s seat. In the 2019 elections, Chetan Chaudhary of the Student Organisation of India (SOI) was elected the campus president. The year before, in 2018, Kanupriya from Students For Society (SFS) had become the first woman president of PUCSC.
Holidays may impact voter turnout
Candidates fear that the voter turnout may be lower this year as students, especially hostellers, may give voting a skip as the polling day falls right after the weekend and a day before Janmashtami.
Last year, because of delayed admissions at University Institute of Engineering and Technology (UIET), freshers had been unable to participate in the polling. However, this time around 500 extra votes will come from his department.
No clear favourite this time
This time, no clear favourite has emerged so far. Last year’s president post winner, CYSS, had been in a strong position till Monday, the last day of campaigning, but the last-minute violence may influence some voters. Panjab University Students Union (PUSU) president Davinder Pal Singh was allegedly thrashed by members of the party on Monday. PU authorities have confirmed that they have found eyewitnesses and will take action based on the testimony.
While CYSS has claimed they were not involved with this, the videos of the candidate’s turban being tossed went viral and this may influence many voters. The voters will also associate CYSS with its earlier displays of power when their MLA made rounds of the campus on at least three instances.
While National Students Union of India (NSUI) candidate Jatinder Singh has a strong base in South Campus, being a bachelors and masters engineering student, instances of cross voting are feared in the NSUI cadre this time due to rifts between different groups in the party. NSUI national in-charge Kanhaiya Kumar had also come to the city to insist all is well, but it is feared that Jatinder joining the party just a day before being declared the presidential candidate won’t be go down well with some members.
While the other two student parties are in close contact with their parent parties, a senior BJP insider revealed that Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), which is the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has tried its best to keep its distance from the BJP. Rather than use the BJP’s political acumen, the students’ decision to base their campaigning on just their ideology is something that has confused some of the BJP leaders who insist that the student leaders need to be more practical while campaigning.
Three pre-poll alliances have been forged this time. The CYSS has joined hands with Himachal Students’ Union (HIMSU), and decided to contest only for the president’s post. Last year, too, CYSS was in alliance with Panjab University Helping Hands (PUHH) that has tied up with ABVP this time. Students Organisation of India (SOI) has tied up with Indian National Students Organisation (INSO) and Himachal Pradesh Students Union (HPSU). SOI will contest for the president’s seat, INSO for vice-president and secretary, and HPSU for joint secretary.
Last-ditch efforts to woo voters
On Tuesday, there had been a ban on campaigning. Student leaders were however spotted doing some one-on-one campaigning without any stickers so as to not flout the Lyngdoh guidelines. The leaders were especially active around UIET, which is the biggest department with 2,527 voters. UIET, UILS and Department of Laws alone have over 35% of the voters. Three of the nine presidential candidates are from these departments and hold sway among the voters here.
Students who have taken admission in the university till September 5 will be permitted to cast their votes. “If any such student has not been issued an identity card from the department, he/she can enter the campus by showing the fee slip along with any identity proof and can cast the vote after verification of the admission,” office of the dean student welfare, said in a circular issued on Tuesday.