Panjab University election: Dominant once, PUSU and SOPU now fight for existence

They are now fighting for their existence as the mainstream political outfits have entered the arena of student politics.

punjab Updated: Aug 19, 2018 11:00 IST
Arshdeep Arshi
Arshdeep Arshi
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Panjab University election,PU election,PUSU
PUSU’s then presidential candidate Rajinder Deepa (fifth from left) leading a rally on the Panjab University campus in 1982.(HT File )

Once prominent student wings, Panjab University Students Union (PUSU) and Students Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU), of Panjab University, are now fighting for their existence as the mainstream political outfits have entered the arena of student politics.

The entry of National Students Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of Indian National Congress; the Students Organisation of India (SOI), the student wing of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), and Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the past seven to eight years has marked the decline of PUSU and SOPU.

‘Politics should be student-centric’

Department of evening studies political science professor Mohammed Khalid said, “Over the years, political parties have taken away space from PU-centric parties. Students who want to continue politics have joined these mainstream parties, for instance, Dalvir Singh Goldy is now Dhuri MLA.”

“I feel the political interference will increase in future. It has a positive impact in bringing out new leaders. But politics has to remain student-centric,” he said.

PUSU contested the student elections for the first time in PU 1978 while SOPU came into being in 1997 and won the first election the very same year. Both PUSU and SOPU had dominated the campus politics. The SOPU is nearly wrapped up with its leaders joining mainstream parties, including Goldy, Kuljeet Singh Nagra who are now leaders of Indian National Congress. Rajinder Deepa who was the PUCSC president from PUSU in 1982 to 1984 contested as an independent candidate from Sunam in the last Punjab elections.

The 14 top leaders from both the parties had joined SOI in 2014, including Simranjit Dhillon, Robin Brar and Vicky Middukhera.

Nishant Kaushal who was PUCSC president from PUSU in 2016-17 also left the party and formed another group of HPSU.

‘Students lured by mainstream parties’

PUSU founder Jaskaran Brar said, “The political parties have corrupted the students. Freshers who enter PU after school do not know much about student politics. They are lured by mainstream political parties. Nowadays, political parties spend frivolously on student polls. If the student elections remain completely independent, without the interference of political parties, these student wings can never win.”

Brinder Dhillon who was a candidate of Congress from Rupnagar in last Punjab Assembly election was a PUCSC president from SOPU in 2008-09. “I joined NSUI in 2013. At that time, no one thought NSUI could win, but it did. I joined the party as student politics was not recognised in outside world,” he said.

About the disadvantages of mainstream political parties in PU, he said, “Sometimes when political leaders come to campus, the issues of students are sidelined as the focus is on leader.”

SOPU founder DPS Randhawa said, “SOPU was powerful till 2014. At that time, the mainstream political parties were entering the PU elections.

They lured SOPU student leaders. Earlier, there was no culture of mainstream political parties on campus. Money and other resources also came into the picture, it changed the whole scenario.”

“Earlier, we were of the belief that national parties can work better but a large gap has been formed when it comes to student issues. Fee hike or enhancement of scholarships has never been an agenda of these parties. In the end, political parties benefit without delivering much,” he said, adding that PUSU and SOPU were issue-oriented parties.

First Published: Aug 19, 2018 11:00 IST