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State of student politics in Panjab University: Despite sweeping 2015 polls, SOI almost sinks into oblivion

Two years after sweeping the PU student polls, SOI has low-visibility on campus now, primarily due to change of regimes in Punjab.

punjab Updated: Aug 30, 2017 11:42 IST
Ifrah Mufti & Shub Karman Dhaliwal
Ifrah Mufti & Shub Karman Dhaliwal
Hindustan Times, Chnadigarh
Panjab University,Shiromani Akali Da,Students’ Organisation of India
(Representative Image)

With Shiromani Akali Dal out of power in Punjab, Students’ Organisation of India (SOI) has almost sunk into oblivion on the Panjab University (PU) campus. Before the PU polls last year, SOI leaders used to come in cars with red-beacons atop, senior Akali functionaries as chaperones and gunmen on toes, thus branding them as VVIPs on campus.

Few SOI leaders, namely Vicky Midhukhera, Bheem Waraicha and Robin Brar, were even provided gunmen, allowing them to manoeuvre around the campus flaunting their status.

Two years after sweeping the PU student polls, SOI has low-visibility on campus now, primarily due to change of regimes in Punjab.

Punjab connection

Most of the senior SOI leaders hail from Malout, Abohar and Muktsar belt, the home turf of Badals. And ahead of council elections, they have held a string of meetings with SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, seeking support.

The leaders had travelled down to Faridkot lately to meet Badal and discuss the poll strategies for this year.

Bunty Romana, who continues to lead SOI, is confident to win the election this time as he claims to have done a lot for the campus students.

“I have observed that situation is really good, not in university only but in colleges too,” Romana said.

“PU is dominated by students from Punjab and state of affairs in Punjab affects them. We have also observed that PU students are pro SOI, considering the fact that our leader Sukhbir Singh Badal is a youth icon and there is a lot of hope among the students to later join the party,” he added.

‘NSUI won’t get any advantage this year’

On asking if the change of guards in Punjab will affect the elections this year, Romana said, “Had the government been doing well, it could have favoured the NSUI. But the way current government has failed to fulfil its electoral promises and lost its credibility, NSUI is not getting any advantage this time.”

The organisation has seen a couple of senior leaders, including former SOI campus president Karan Randhawa, quitting the party.

Navi Khemkaran, who stood as election in-charge last year, has left and former SOI president University Institute of Engineering and Technology (UIET), Piyush Anand, has moved abroad, thus weakening their hold on the major departments of campus.

Dent in leadership

Randhawa has now joined the newly launched Indian Students’ Association (ISA) while Navi is the current president of Panjab University Student Union (PUSU).

The duo were associated with SOI for the last four years and had openly stated that there was no freedom to express their views.

The organisation has brought fresh faces after facing defeat last year. SOI has introduced a 30-member team led by Iqbalpreet Singh Takhar, the last year’s winning president of SD College.

“The main cadre which ensured my victory at SD is rigourous campaigning in departments,” said Iqbal, who is campaigning at three-year law department.

‘We fulfilled all our promises’

Vicky Midukhera, SOI state president, however said, “All of our promises were fulfilled when we were in the council. We were committed to the requirements of students and our former council president is still with us.”

“However, the other student organisations on the campus believe that when SOI was in power, their claims to get the ₹10-crore grant had fallen flat,” he added.

SAD had launched its youth wing in 2006.

However, SOI fought elections for the first time in 2014 and the party was re-launched after a senior Student Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU) leader joined it. In 2014, SOI lost the president’s post by a margin of 58 votes.

When SOI tasted victory

In 2015, the SOI emerged as a winner. The victory margin for the post of president was 1,436 votes, the highest ever.

First Published: Aug 30, 2017 11:42 IST