Women have made their presence felt on the Panjab University Campus Student Council (PUCSC) as three out of five executive posts went to female department representatives (DR) after the result of the election was declared on Friday.
The student council comprises nine posts, comprising four office-bearers and five executive DRs. Four of nine posts have gone to women along with university students electing their first woman president.
A total of 16 DRs contested for the five executive posts on the PUCSC. As many as 105 DRs, including the four office-bearers, cast their vote. The voting started at 11 am inside the department of physics and was soon followed by the oath-taking ceremony around 3.30 pm after the results were declared.
Vinny Kaur from the Panjab University Students’ Union (PUSU) got the highest votes at 55, followed by Ramanpreet Kaur of the Students Organisation of India (SOI) with 39 votes, Vaibhav Mahajan of the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) with 35 votes, Anand Kumar of the SOI with 34 votes and Vrinda of the Students Federation of Panjab University (SFPU) with 33 votes.
“I will work towards women empowerment and strengthening academics and placement opportunities for students on the campus. I am happy to be a part of the student council and want to work for basic issues that students face. It’s great that we have a woman president and three other women on the council,” said Vinny, who is a final-year student of University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (UIPS).
Ramanpreet and Vrinda are from the department of physics. Mahajan is from the department of defence and national security studies while Anand is from University Institute of Engineering and Technology (UIET).
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) has claimed that Vrinda is their DR, but her nomination for DR was filed as a candidate of the SFPU. However, the ABVP and SFPU contested the election as allies with the presidential candidate from the former and candidates for vice-president, secretary and joint secretary from the latter.
The SOI and its alliance parties, Indian Students Association (ISA) and Indian National Students Organisation (INSO), have got the largest share in the PUCSC with four out of nine posts. The NSUI has two posts on the council now, followed by one each for Students For Society (SFS), PUSU and ABVP-SFPU.
Senior SOI leader Vickey Middukhera said, “We were confident that we had a majority of DRs on our side and I’m happy with our performance.” He claimed that the SOI backed the DR from PUSU who has won with the highest votes.
The NSUI had claimed to have at least 34 DRs on their side that proved fruitful for them as their winning DR got 35 votes. “We had two DRs in the running, one got 35 and the other got around 30 votes,” said senior leader Manoj Lubana.
After registering their first presidential win on September 6, the SFS failed to win any executive post. Last year, the party had won a single executive post. “We had thought that we have support from over 30 DRs, so I don’t know what happened,” said Harman Deep, spokesperson of the SFS. He too claimed that PUSU, SOI and NSUI came together in the “last minute” to contest the executive DR election.
In a way, all the major student organisations on the campus now have a share in the PUCSC. “This election has turned up a complicated scenario with all the big parties getting their share on the student council. However, it’s interesting to see that the SFS which won the presidential post and the ABVP which came second in the race did not have any impact on the executive DR election,” said a student leader, who did not want to be named.
ABVP stakes claim over one executive post, SFPU counters
The ABVP has staked its claim on one executive post that went to a DR from the SFPU. The parties, however, contested the student council election as allies.
The SFPU claimed that Vrinda, a second-year student of BSc Physics, filed her nomination for the post of DR as a candidate of the party.
Now, after winning the executive post, the ABVP has stated that Vrinda is their DR and though the two parties were allies, the student herself had “declared” that she was from the ABVP.
“I am not from the SFPU; the ABVP and SFPU were allies in the election. But for the executive DR election, I campaigned as part of the ABVP,” said Vrinda, who was accompanied by senior ABVP leader Krishan Sheoran.
As for her change in direction, Vrinda said, “The students have voted for a Leftist party, but they do not fully understand its ideology and are unaware of the term comrade. We want to bring about a balance on the council. However, as the student council, I feel we should be united in our cause for student welfare.”
Sheoran said it was on the basis of a “mutual understanding” that the ABVP had announced Vrinda as their own DR.
Sources outside both the parties have hinted at a future merger of the SFPU with the ABVP. Some senior leaders of the SFPU are likely to merge the party with the ABVP. Many of these student leaders are among the founding members of the new party that came up in April after breaking away from parties such as the PUSU. The SFPU contested their first election on the campus in alliance with the ABVP. They contested the posts of vice-president, secretary and joint secretary, but could not win any.