Midnight alliances, last-minute changes and adjustments are often the norm on the day nominations are filed on the Panjab University campus ahead of the student council elections that will be held on September 6.
If not at the Student Centre, party volunteers from different organisations are spread across the campus negotiating posts for their own candidates within alliances: be it in department canteens or clandestine WhatsApp groups.
It is a known fact that smaller parties join hands with larger parties on the campus. But this year, only two alliances have surfaced with one week left for the student council elections. The first party to announce an alliance was the Students Organisation of India (SOI) with the Pal Pehelwan Students Organisation (PPSO) while the second one to do so was the Indian Students Association (ISA) with the Kuldeep Rawat group of the Himachal Pradesh Students Organisation (HPSU).
Sources said the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) was eager for an alliance with the SOI but the latter is keen on an alliance with either the Indian National Students’ Organisation (INSO) or the newly formed Students Federation of Panjab University (SFPU).
An INSO volunteer said, “It all depends on the list of nominations. Once that is out, we all will get together and discuss posts. The best fit will then become an alliance.”
An SOI leader said they will be finalising their alliance by midnight. There will, however, be no change in their choice of presidential candidate. Iqbalpreet Singh Takhar, a student of centre for human rights and duties, was finalised in June. The party has no intention of withdrawing his name from the candidature.
However, sources said the SFPU was unhappy with the choice of SOI presidential candidate and was hence mulling whether it should get into an alliance with the party.
The ABVP is also learnt to have shown an interest in an alliance with the SFPU and has offered it two posts barring the presidential post. On the other hand, the SOI has offered it three posts.
The SFPU has claimed to have a major following in University Institute of Engineering and Technology (UIET), located on the south campus. The UIET is considered a “game changer” in the PU elections with around 2,500 votes.
Some alliances have a lasting effect on student politics at PU. In 2016, one of the oldest parties on the campus, the Panjab University Students’ Union (PUSU), came to power for the first time in six years when it joined hands with a faction of the National Students Union of India (NSUI) called the Student Front.
This year, the NSUI has decided not to get into an alliance. However, the party that swept the polls last year is riddled with “groupism”, though it has put up a united front.
Nitish Gaur, party in-charge, NSUI, said, “There’s no groupism and we will fight together and support our candidates till the end.”
There are some parties that have never considered an alliance. The Students For Society (SFS) has reportedly turned down numerous offers of alliances. With cracks in the SOI and NSUI this year, there are whispers that the time is ripe for the SFS to win the post of president.
“The party has been unusually quiet in the run-up to the elections. It has not done anything to court controversy. Even students are mostly positive about the party this year,” said Harasees Chahal, an SFPU leader.
Last year, the SFS was instrumental in the rollback of the fee hike. However, students and other parties accused the party of “inciting” violence on the campus when the police clashed with students.
“We have not even staged too many plays this year. There’s not much to talk about, I guess. So far, the energy has been quite low and students are not talking about any relevant issue,” said an SFS volunteer.
The SFS has fielded Kanu Priya from the department of zoology. Last year too, the party fielded a woman candidate, Hassan Preet, who was the runner-up to NSUI’s Jashan Kamboj.