One of the oldest student organisations on the campus, Panjab University Students’ Union (PUSU), will focus on creating an “academic-friendly” environment as part of their agenda for the Panjab University Campus Student Council (PUCSC) election in September.
On Wednesday, the PUSU named its party panel, kickstarting its campaign on the campus. The homegrown party has appointed English PhD scholar Kuldeep Singh as party president, Jaspreet Brar from the department of Urdu as president, Jastinder Bhangu from the department of geology as campus president, Babbal Chaudhary from the department of special BEd as chairman and Bhagat Gurdaspur from the Centre for Human Rights and Duties as campus chairman.
Kuldeep Singh, party president, PUSU, said, “Our campaign will be traditional. We will visit classes with man-to-man marking and take the help of the social media network to promote our campaign. We are also focusing on using less paper to keep the campaign eco-friendly.”
The party was formed in 1977 and it won the presidential post during the PUCSC election in 2016 after a gap of five years. Before that, it had become a routine for the student parties with political affiliation to win the polls.
But Nishant Kaushal, the 2016 president, left the party this year to join the Himachal Pradesh Students’ Union (HPSU). Kuleep added that Kaushal left the party due to “personal reasons”. However, he said the party’s aim was to promote student activism and welfare on the campus. Two other campus parties, Students’ Federation of Panjab University (SFPU) and Law Students’ Union (LSU), are a result of members breaking away from the PUSU.
To this, Kuldeep added, “They might have their personal aims and reasons. We don’t object to others forming a new party. The PUSU has been a launchpad of leadership and we are proud that the organisation has produced strong leaders.”
The legacy of the PUSU is that it is one of the oldest parties. The PUSU first fought the campus election in 1978 and went on to win the post of vice-president in 1980. In 1982, it finally won the post of president, followed by presidential wins in 2010 and 2016. However, the legacy has been marred by allegations of violence, with the party becoming one of eight most notorious student organisations at PU. In 2015, the year before it won the PU student election, there were 21 FIRs against the party.
“We have come a long way and this time our motto is politics for a change. While political parties have prominent leaders, we want to keep our campaign neat and clean with no affiliation to outsiders,” said Kuldeep. He added that the emergence of campus parties without political affiliation was a signal that political parties were on the decline. “Students are joining campus-grown organisations and this is good for student activism and politics. Students are well aware now and prefer to open up new fronts,” he said.
Sometimes, even homegrown parties have to form alliances with student parties that are politically motivated. In 2016, the PUSU had joined hands with a faction of the National Students’ Union of India-Student Front (NSUI-SF). Kuldeep said the panel that would contest the election would be revealed on the day of the nominations and the PUSU was ready to fight the poll with full energy.
The party’s agenda is academics-driven that will look into issues of research scholars and an all-inclusive manifesto. Student leaders who have joined the PUSU from other parties are Rahul Pandey, who was the department representative at the University Institute of Legal Studies (UILS) last year, and English PhD scholar Parmod Narwal. Both the leaders are from the Students’ Organisation of India (SOI), the student wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal.
The party will announce its south campus panel next week that has at least two research scholars from the University Institute of Engineering and Technology.