Panjab University polls sprung a pleasant surprise for two beleaguered parties with the Shiromani Akali Dal-backed Student Organisation of India (SOI) winning the presidential post and its arch rival Congress-backed National Students Union of India (NSUI) sweeping the other three posts of vice-president, joint secretary and general secretary. ABVP, which had pinned high hopes on these polls, made significant inroads but could not get any post though its leaders said SOI win was as good as theirs. SFS, which gave the varsity its first woman president, failed to live up to its promise.
In a closely contested race, Chetan Chowdhry of SOI defeated Paras Rattan of ABVP by 479 votes. SOI had last won in 2015, when the Akali-BJP combine was reigning over Punjab. A jubilant Bikram Singh Majithia, former Akali minister, led the celebrations at PU as the news broke.
The results were equally heartening for NSUI, which swept three posts. Former MP Pawan Bansal, who is also a PU Senator, said, “Youngsters have reposed their confidence in the progressive ideology of the party. ABVP, despite its efforts, and interference by its parent party, stands defeated.’’ Referring to the stormy Seanate meet over the issue of DSW appointment, he said, “The students have seen through their promises and have showed that they would not bow down to the hooliganism that recently took place on the campus.’’ Bansal cautioned NSUI leaders to set a good example this time, unlike the last time when they were in power.
‘A mandate for Akalis’
SAD spokesperson Param Bans Romana called the polls a mandate for the party. “Students from all parts of Punjab come to study here..these results show that people of Punjab clearly support SAD.”
Majithia said, “This is a win for inclusiveness despite government efforts to influence the result.”
While SAD tried to take credit for the win, students said it was their candidate Chetan Chowdhry’s student-friendly attitude that won them this post. Chaudhary, 23, is a UIET graduate and is now a student of MA Urdu.
SOI had joined hands with PUSU, HIMSU and ISA for these polls, while ABVP had allied with INSO and HPSU.
Prof Ashutosh Kumar from the Political Science department said the active affiliation of political parties made these elections comparable to the polls at Delhi University, JNU and Hyderabad Central University.
“The results are a boost for Akali Dal as the party was relegated to the third position in the 2017 assembly elections.’’
On the council relations with the PU authorities, Prof Kumar said, “The university has institutional structures in place. You have deans, associate deans, wardens, and also the departmental representatives constituting council. They all act as mediating agencies. The posts of DSW is very crucial. ‘’
The fall of SFS
While Kumar said that the SFS votes showed that it was not flash in the pan, Dr Vinod Kumar, Assistant professor, Sociology, said the results clearly indicate that the magic of Left is gone very soon because of below average performance. “The 24by7 hostel accessibility for girls was an achievement but they couldn’t fulfil their promise to make the campus a vehicle-free zone. They boycotted the independence Day celebration, and that sent the wrong message in the student community.’’