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HT Analysis | NSUI victory in Panjab University student election has clear Congress markings

Amid talk of SFS ‘wave’, election became battle of ideologies. But, with the leftists fragmented, and the rightists far from its national strength here, the math counted for a lot. And the centrist, wilier player made that count. It’s a classic Congress victory.

punjab Updated: Sep 07, 2017 23:28 IST
Shub Karman Dhaliwal
Shub Karman Dhaliwal
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
NSUI,Congress,Panjab university
Students celebrate after NSUI won three key pots in the Panjab University student election on Thursday.(HT Photo)

‘United we stand, divided we fall’ is the phrase that can describe the win of Congress wing National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) in elections for Panjab University Campus Students’ Council (PUCSC) on Wednesday.

In its presidential triumph against the homegrown maverick party Students for Society (SFS) — which fought alone and performed well below expectations — the NSUI not only underlined the importance of alliances in a fragmented polity even on campus, but also lent a shot in the arm for the Congress, at least in terms of perception.

In all, the NSUI, in alliance with four others, won the president’s post by more than 600 votes against the SFS, and two other seats on the panel of four.

Congress-leaning leaders on the campus were on the winning side last time too, though as a breakaway faction that had allied with the Panjab University Students’ Union (PUSU). This time, the PUSU managed to win only the joint secretary’s post this time, that too in an alliance with three others.

The SFS, which had pleasantly surprised itself with a second-place finish on the top post last year, was hoping to win it all this time, on the back of a violent protest against fee hike in April. But it could not even increase its share from departments that have self-financed courses with high fees. Did the violence put some students off? That is hard to answer, though the SFS has been alleging a “conspiracy” of the university administration in projecting them as “confrontationist” and “anarchist”.

The largest department, UIET, voted for its homeboy, the lone ABVP candidate, fragmenting all others’ expectations.

The effect of Punjab’s changed tide reflected here too, with the Student Organization of India (SOI), a wing of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), finishing fourth.

The Congress, on a high in Punjab but beleaguered at the national level, was quick to tom-tom the victory, with its official Twitter handles abuzz with messages of congratulations. Punjab MLAs – including Youth Congress national president Amrinder Singh Raja Warring and Davinder Ghubaya — had reportedly visited the campus on polling eve.

Since PU has a large number of students from neighbouring states, the results resonate far and wide. Even the ABVP’s ‘spoiler’ presence was in light of the fact that it is leading a government at the Centre and in Haryana, though it recently went out of power in Punjab. In Himachal, though, it is hoping to form the government on the back of anti-incumbency against the Congress. Unions of Himachal students were divided between the NSUI and the ABVP.

In the larger scheme of things, though, amid all the talk of a ‘wave’ in favour of the SFS, the election had become a battle of ideologies. But, with the Left-leaning outfits fragmented, and the Right far from its national strength here, the math counted for a lot. And the centrist, wilier player made that count. It’s a classic Congress victory, a la Punjab.

3 winning factors for NSUI

*United front this time, and alliance with 4 others

*Wily planning backed by Congress leaders

*Strong networking, cadres built over the years

3 reasons why SFS failed

*Cadres limited primarily to North Campus

*Failure to ally even with fellow leftists

*Fragmentation of votes even in so-called strongholds

First Published: Sep 07, 2017 23:23 IST