A few years back, student politics at Panjab University (PU) was dominated by male student leaders. This year the discourse of politics has changed with Kanupriya, a member of left-leaning Students for Society (SFS) being elected as the first woman president.
Before the student council elections were held, many student leaders of various outfits had opined that SFS took a wrong decision by choosing a woman candidate. They had said SFS had earlier too failed to win the student council elections as they had fielded women presidential candidates.
Criticising the decision, a few student leaders said ‘Kudi kudi nu vote nahi paundi (women do not vote for women)’. However, the stereotypical view changed this year.
Kanupriya will bring change
Upon Kanupriya’s victory girl students said that she will bring a change in the political scenario of PU. Hassanpreet Kaur, last year’s presidential candidate from SFS said: “The discourse started changing last year. The view that a woman cannot be president of the student council has been thrown out of the window. Yesterday we held a rally with 400 girl students. It is a change in itself.”
Victory brought a sense of sisterhood
Ravinder Kaur, a student of the department of English said: “Girl students who voted for other candidates said they should have voted for Kanupriya. Her victory brought a sense of sisterhood among the girls on campus.”
Lovepreet Kaur, a student of the department of public administration said: “Now more girl students will step into politics. They will know that they do not need to depend on male leaders to bring up their issues.”
Priya Garg, a student of the department of chemistry said: “We are in majority on the campus, but we have not found representation in the real sense. Only a woman can understand the problems faced by a woman.”
Triumph celebrated till late night
Till late night, girl students and hostellers celebrated Kanupriya’s victory at PU. Harpreet Kaur, a member of SFS said: “Every girl felt she was really a part of the university after the declaration of polls results yesterday.”
Girls raised slogans including ‘Bari barsi khattan gya si khatt ke lyanda ghiya, jashan manao bai jitt gayi sadi Kanupriya.’
Kanupriya said: “Girls were so overwhelmed with my victory, they kept coming to me and suggested so many ideas. It felt as if they were waiting for this day. They wish their issues will be addressed.”
She has travelled quite a distance – completing her schooling from Tarn Taran and then becoming the first ever woman president of Panjab University. A budding zoologist, Kanupriya, 22, is confident, amicable and a fast learner – the traits that helped her make history on the Panjab University campus.
Kanupriya joined Students For Society (SFS) in 2015 and rose through the ranks to be fielded as the presidential candidate three years on. She never misses a chance to a raise voice for gender equality.
“Student-centric issues led me to campus politics. My victory is not personal but a result of the collective struggle of SFS members. We will raise student issues and not let ourselves become puppets in the hands of the authorities. All elected representatives will work as a team for student rights,” says Kanupriya.