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PU polls-2017: ‘Sticky’ economics of student council elections

Rules go for a toss: Violating Lyngdoh Committee guidelines common among parties which exceed their budget by spending at least Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh on stickers, posters and other printed material for canvassing

punjab Updated: Aug 31, 2017 14:13 IST
Arshdeep Arshi
Arshdeep Arshi
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
PU polls-2017,student council elections,economics of PU polls
Candidates using printed stickers for canvassing at Panjab University, Chandigarh, on Wednesday.(Karun Sharma/HT)

Student council elections at Panjab University become a canvas of colourful stickers of different parties dotting the ground. Students sport their colours to show their allegiance. Parties distribute them to bring more supporters into their fold. Wonder where they come from and how much they cost?

“All the major student parties spend Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh on stickers and posters alone,” said an employee at a printing press in Industrial Area, Phase 2, Chandigarh. Many parties come here to get their stickers and posters printed.

However, this is also a clear violation of the Lyngdoh Committee guidelines. The rules state that candidates cannot use printed material for canvassing. Only handmade material within the limit of expenditure can be used. Also, each candidate cannot spend more than Rs 5,000, so all parties roughly have an estimated budget of Rs 20,000. They nominate a panel of four for the posts of president, vice-president, secretary and joint secretary of the Panjab University Campus Students Council Election (PUCSC).

2 lakh stickers printed last year

“Around 2 lakh stickers were used last year, only in our college,” said the spokesperson of a leading party of Post Graduate Government College (PGGC), Sector 11. According to the rates in the market, 10,000 small stickers cost Rs 1,700. Usually, parties get 10,000 printed at once. Five or six major parties do the same three or four times during their campaign.

Parties spend more on stickers as the elections near, added the employee at the printing press. A party spends Rs 4,000 for 1,000 posters while 500 posters cost Rs 3,000.

Many parties get stickers only to toss them in the air as a mark of celebration or victory. Campaign rallies leave a trail of stickers behind on the ground, in turn defacing properties.

Presidential candidate spends most

A source said parties in colleges too spend lakhs to contest the elections. In most cases, the candidate for president is chosen from among those who can spend money during the elections.

“When I was a candidate, I spent around Rs 3 to Rs 4 lakh from my own pocket. Other members collected the same amount among them. The presidential candidate is the one who can spend the most,” said a former presidential candidate from Sri Guru Gobind Singh College, Sector 26.

Not only stickers and posters, parties also spend money on organising parties, tours and even movie shows. While many student parties have political support, others spend from their own pocket.

Do parties use handmade material?

Many parties use fancy stickers and posters printed to attract more supporters. One of the major parties has for 20 different types of stickers for campaigning. Some wear badges while others use handmade stickers.

A normal sticky sheet costs Rs 10, out of which 12 small stickers can be made. Parties such as the Students for Society (SFS) buys sticky sheets and paints ‘SFS’ on the stickers. The All India Students Association (AISA) uses badges which depict the revolutionary, Bhagat Singh.

What Lyngdoh says on poll expenditure

  • Maximum permitted expenditure per candidate is Rs 5,000
  • Each candidate shall, within two weeks of declaration of result, submit complete and audited accounts to college or university authorities.
  • Audited accounts must be published within 2 days of submission, through suitable medium so that any member of student body may freely examine the same
  • Election of candidate will be nullified in event of any noncompliance or in event of excessive expenditure
  • To prevent funding from political parties, candidates are barred from utilising funds from any other sources than voluntary contributions from student body.

First Published: Aug 31, 2017 14:12 IST