Home India News It’s a Net-based poll campaign at Panjab University

It’s a Net-based poll campaign at Panjab University

By Alkesh Sharma, IANS,

Chandigarh : If you’ve got not so familiar e-mail and you’re a Panjab University (PU) student, it’s probably from a candidate seeking your vote in the forthcoming students union elections.

PU students unions that earlier only relied on mass rallies and on one-to-one contact are now making use of electronic mails, social networking sites, blogging and SMSes to reach out to potential voters.

PU elections are slated Sep 12 and university authorities have made it clear to all candidates that the elections will be carried out strictly following the Supreme Court’s guidelines and the Lyngdoh committee’s recommendations on students union polls.

This year the four major groups contesting the students council elections are Panjab University Students Union (PUSU), Student Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU), Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and Indian National Student Organisation (INSO).

“INSO was the first students union in PU to create the party’s blog and its community on a social networking site. We welcome the Lyngdoh committee’s recommendations to restrict the elections’ budget as earlier wrong candidates have been elected solely because of the money that they spent on campaigning,” Sukhdev Kundu, chairperson and INSO’s presidential candidate, told IANS.

With the implementation of the Lyngdoh committee’s recommendations and code of conduct that restricts the maximum expenditure per candidate to Rs.5,000, the candidates have been forced to adopt more economical and extensive methods to reach out to students.

“We have posted our party’s manifesto and motto on our blog and there is a column where students can also send their feedback and suggestions. We consider Internet the best and most economical medium for campaigning,” said Sukhdev.

“Most of the departments and hostels of PU are wi-fi (wireless fidelity) equipped, so students have easy access to the Internet. This idea struck us on seeing the routine use of Internet in the presidential campaign in the US,” said Manpret Virk, a party worker of PUSU.

“University authorities have given us very little time for campaigning and it is not possible to contact every voter in this short duration. Therefore, we are sending electronic mails and messages on the mobiles of the students,” Virk told IANS.

“We have also formed our party’s blog and community on a social networking site where we have mentioned the party’s history and future plans,” he added.

But some students in PU consider the Lyngdoh committee’s recommendations a mere eyewash.

“One new thing that emerges in this year’s students polls is the widespread use of technology by student leaders. However, this cannot stop the political parties in PU campus from using money in wooing the voters,” Harmanjit Singh Deol, former student leader of PU, told IANS.

“Despite the strict guidelines parties have been arranged at local nightclubs for the students. Liquor bottles and free movie tickets have been supplied right in the hostel rooms,” said Deol, who is currently working for a PhD at the university.

Panjab University is one of the oldest universities in India, being established in 1882 at Lahore.

The PU campus here is spread over 550 acres. The university has around 60 teaching and research departments and over 170 colleges are affiliated to it.