The going rate for a Panjab University vote: Free trips to Shimla, Kasauli

Sep 02 2014, 14:55 IST
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Students of UIET being taken for a free trip ahead of elections. Express photo: Sumit Malhotra Students of UIET being taken for a free trip ahead of elections. Express photo: Sumit Malhotra
SummaryAs per norms, a candidate should not spend more than Rs 5,000 in the election and a violation could attract disqualification

From free trips to Shimla and Kasauli to movie tickets, student bodies in Panjab University (PU) are enticing voters for the student council elections in flagrant violation of the Lyngdoh committee norms. As per the guidelines, a candidate should not spend more than Rs 5,000 in the election and a violation could attract disqualification.

According to estimates given by student leaders, however, each party is spending approximately

Rs 25 lakh, in effect, more than Rs 6 lakh on each candidate for the four posts of president, vice-president, general secretary and joint secretary.

On the free trips taken to Shimla and Kasauli, a student leader said, “What is wrong in it? This has been a trend in the university. We spend from our own pocket, we are not asking the university to pay.”

“Hiring a bus for a day costs between Rs 15,000 and 18,000. Breakfast, lunch and snacks cost Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000. We organise two trips on the weekend, and the cost is close to Rs 80,000,” said another student leader.

He said that the parties alone could not be blamed. “The students have become blunt and ask for freebies. If we offer them a lunch or a free voucher, they ask us to give them cash instead. We have received demands from students to watch a movie at Elante Mall. Providing movie tickets to 40 people costs around Rs 5,000,” he said.

Navdeep Goyal, Dean of Students Welfare, said, “There is no record of such expenditure. We know that some parties took students to Kasauli and Shimla yesterday, but we have no proof of who organised the trip. We have election observers to keep a check on such violations. We will get their expenditure report on September 3.”

It is also an open secret that students organisations get money from various political parties. A student leader said, “Before the elections, every organisation knows that they will get funds from political parties. They plan their campaign accordingly.”

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