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Student elections: As Panjab University votes, it’s a battle of ideologies

7 candidates vying for the post of president; varsity, police on toes to maintain peace

punjab Updated: Sep 07, 2017 10:58 IST
Ifrah Mufti
Ifrah Mufti
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Student elections,Panjab University,PU polls
(Left to right) Harman Sing Lubana, Avinash Pandey, Hassanpreet, Davinder Singh and Jashan Kamboj at the Panjab University in Chandigarh on Wednesday. (Karun sharma/HT)

A total of 15,602 students will decide the fate of 28 candidates vying for the four posts of president, vice-president, secretary and joint secretary of the Panjab University Campus Students Council (PUCSC), which goes to the polls on Thursday.

The multi-cornered contest will witness seven students fighting for the post of president, four for vice-president, eight for secretary and nine for joint secretary. All eyes are on budding engineers and lawyers who comprise majority of the vote bank. The University Institute of Engineering and Technology has 2,484 students while the University Institute of Legal Studies and the Department of Laws have a combined strength of 2,533 students.

The results are expected to be out by 9pm, but could be delayed, said the authorities.

Since PU has a large number of students from neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, the choice of the youth resonates far and wide. In recent times it is for the first time that ABVP, student wing of the BJP, has fielded a candidate for the post of president at PU. The BJP is leading a government at Centre, and in Haryana, but it recently went out of power in Punjab. In Himachal, it is hoping to form the government on the back of anti-incumbency against the Congress regime.

In the larger scheme of things, the election has also turned into a battle of ideologies – while the NSUI and ABVP fight for their parties’ prestige too, the SFS has emerged as a Left-leaning alternative that is challenging old norms and ways of campus politics at PU.

Main contenders

The main contest is between the two alliances led by the National Students Union of India (NSUI) and Panjab University Students Union (PUSU) and two independent bodies — Students for Society (SFS) and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). The ABVP is contesting on the post of president only.

The NSUI is leading an alliance of six organisations, the others being Gandhi Group Students Union (GGSU), Himachal Students Union (HIMSU), Hindustan Students Association (HSA) and factions of PUSU — PUSU for Students and National Students Organisation (NSO).

The PUSU-led alliance had swept the polls in 2016 but is faction-ridden this time. Ironically, the party had made an alliance with a faction of the NSUI — NSUISF — last year. This time, however, both the NSUI factions got reunited and the Congress student wing, which stood fourth last year, is among the front-runners this time.

While the NSUI had fielded the lone woman candidate — Siya Minocha — on the post of president last year, this time SFS has done the same. The SFS, which lost the previous presidential election by a narrow margin, is contesting on all the four posts this time. It’s last year’s candidate was leading in the north campus but witnessed a sudden decline in the south campus, giving a lead to Students Organisation of India (SOI).

This year, the SOI has join hands with the Students Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU) and Panjab University Helping Hand (PUSU).

Eye on violations

“We are expecting a peaceful election this year,” said PU dean, students’ welfare, Emanual Nahar. “The varsity along with the UT administration and police have been keeping vigil and maintaining various restrictions, especially to keep outsiders at bay.”

PU chief security officer Ashwani Koul said they are ensuring that Lyngdoh guidelines are not violated on the campus. “The entire election process has been peaceful. We appeal to the students to maintain peace even after the results,” he said.

First Published: Sep 07, 2017 10:57 IST