Rahul Gandhi's PU visit kicks up row

Even before he steps into the beautiful campus of Panjab University here, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's scheduled visit Thursday has already kicked up a row.

Student organisations are divided about whether or not Gandhi should be allowed to hold a rally on the university campus Thursday. The visit has been organised by the National Students Union of India (NSUI), the students' wing of the Congress party.

Gandhi is scheduled to address students from Panjab University and colleges in Chandigarh and Punjab as part of his two-day visit to the state, which started Wednesday.

Panjab University Student's Union (PUSU) has said that political functions cannot be allowed on the campus, and questioned the decision of university authorities to allow the rally.

A PUSU statement read: "We will protest against the decision to allow Rahul Gandhi's rally here."

The NSUI expects over 5,000 students for Gandhi's rally. There will also be students ferried into the capital city from other parts of the state, in about 100 buses.

Gandhi is expected to reply to questions from students on subjects ranging from politics, education, corruption and foreign direct investment (FDI).

Though the PU campus students' union (PUCSC), the official students' body in Panjab University, has not said anything on the controversy around Gandhi's visit, two student bodies - the Students Organisation of India (SOI) and the Students' Federation of India (SFI) - are objecting to his visit.

Both these organisations are part of the ruling alliance in the PUCSC, which is led by Students of Panjab University (SOPU).

SOI president Gurpreet Singh said: "We joined hands with SOPU for a strong students union on the campus. We are not interested in such political events."

The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), a frontal organisation of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), said that since Gandhi was allowed to address students, authorities must also allow top BJP leaders to address students.

Meanwhile, special arrangements are being made on the campus for Gandhi's visit.

Tight security arrangements are being made by Chandigarh Police, the city administration and PU authorities. Several restrictions will be in place during Gandhi's visit in the city. 

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