PANJAB UNIVERSITY witnessed an unusual scene on Friday, when 42 Iranian students at the university and other educational institutions in City Beautiful voted in their presidential elections at a polling booth specially set up by the Iranian government on campus. This is the first time that any country has made arrangements for voting in its elections at Panjab University. The Iranian election, which got underway on Friday, will decide the fate of incumbent President Hassan Rouhani and his opponent Ebrahim Raisi.
On being asked whom they voted for, an Iranian student, who did not wish to be identified, studying at dental college said, “I have voted for Hasan Rouhani as I identify with his ideology which is modern and open-minded. He is negotiating with the US and European countries which is good. Last time I voted in Iran and this is first time that I have voted in India.”
The student said that Raisi’s victory would bring an abrupt halt to Iran’s nascent re-engagement with the West, following the sanction waiver deal put in place by the previous Obama administration in the US, which the Trump administration is also following for now. The deal was facilitated by Rouhani. Raisi is a conservative candidate.
The student said Iranians wanted their country’s economy, which is just recovering from the crippling sanctions, to grow. Sohail, a research scholar studying at Panjab University, said, “During the last presidential elections, I was in India and I voted in Delhi. However, this time the polling booth was set up at PU which made it easier for me to vote,” said Sohail, refusing to reveal whom he voted for.
Sohail said not just students but Iranians working in the city came to cast their votes when they came to know about it. The voting started at 10 am and lasted till 4 pm at the International Hostel of PU. The university has 62 students from Iran. A total of 42 people voted in the presence of three Iranian Embassy officials.
Speaking to Chandigarh Newsline, Professor S Mohd Reza Khalili, the research counsellor in the Science and Education section of the Iranian Embassy, said, “We made a request to the Dean International Students Office to provide space for setting up a polling booth for the presidential election as a number of Iranian students and people live around the city. Earlier, they would be required to go to Delhi for casting their vote and everybody couldn’t make it but this time around, we thought PU would be the best choice for them.”