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Posted at: Sep 8, 2016, 2:32 AM; last updated: Sep 8, 2016, 3:01 AM (IST)

When Left got it almost right

SFS challenge to money, muscle power finds new ground at PU
When Left got it almost right
Amritpal Singh (in pic), the presidential candidate of the SFS from Tanda Urmar, Hoshiarpur, whose fee has been waived as he is a Dalit and whose stay is sponsored by students, says their struggle and performance hold testimony to the fact that there is hope for student-centric politics on every campus.

Vishav Bharti

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7

For almost two decades, student politics at Panjab University was about kakas from Malwa, swanky cars, fashion statements, partying in hills, orange colour of PUSU and parrot green of SOPU. But the last three years have seen the colours changing. Not only colours, words like communalism, fee hike, Dalit discrimination, vehicle-free zone, feminism and Ambedkar’s dreams started making it to the campus’ vocabulary. Left, on the decline in the entire country, saw an unusual emergence at the PU. Unprecedented too. That is why, even as the candidate of the Student for Society lost by a narrow margin, the margin can’t be ignored.

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Bhupinder Brar, Professor, Political Science, Panjab University, who has been associated with Panjab University since 1972, said the emergence of the SFS contender as a fighter was something no one had foreseen. “It is a rejection of the politics of muscle and money power. It indicates that students have also rejected the mainstream political parties,” he said.

“These students have changed the colour of politics at the PU,” says a former student leader, who wished not to be named.

“It is a rejection of the politics of those who were trying to get votes by offering movie shows, dinners, trips and beauty parlour coupons,” says Aman Deep, a research scholar at the PU Department of English and SFS leader who unsuccessfully contested for the post of president in 2014. “However, it required a lot of effort,” she says.

The SFS started as a discussion group in September 2010, holding discussions on books and social issues, circulating pamphlets among students. She says in 2012, they started a struggle against fee hike, making the PU a vehicle-free zone and a place where women’s issues were a serious concern. The student leaders also had to face police cases.

It was unimaginable that the son of a Dalit agricultural labourer would raise real issues of society and put up a strong fight in the elections, says Akshay Kumar, former president of PUTA. “These elections will have a far-reaching effect on national and regional politics. That is where the hope lies,” says Kumar.

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