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DUCSU ELECTION

Control by a student organization makes victory irrelevant

Faruque Ahmed
Dhaka University authorities open tolerance to rigging, intimidation and protection to various election irregularities to DUCSU election by Bangladesh Chatra League—the student wing of the ruling party—and their sweeping victory in the polls have utterly bewildered the nation.
All five panels except the BCL have disowned the election results and demanded fresh election. They have issued a three-day ultimatum to cancel the electionfor fresh election while the VC has threatened protesting students with actions including cases if any one try to create chaos.
Meanwhile a group of students started hunger strike on the campus to press home their demand. No one had expected that the DUCSU election would turn into a boomerang, but it is now moving towards an uncharted territory.
In this election female students however turned the table down foiling BCL game plan to rig votes in their residential halls. Independent candidates won most seats in female halls in difference to other male halls where BCL victory was absolute.
People have so far believed most politicians are corrupt as they come from millers, contractors and such other infamous background. But the DUCSU election that took place after 28 years this time also left a devastating trail of blatantly corrupting the election system betraying people hope for change.
They had hoped DUCSU election could reverse the root in electioneering system now sweeping the nation – be it parliament election, Upazila election now in progress without voters showing up at most polling centers to local body election at the bottom.
But this election equally proved the election system has been totally destroyed at all levels. Dr Kamal Hussain and leaders of other opposition political parties decried the way the Dhaka University election has put shame on the nation.
Free election has no more a place in our election system. Public institutions have ceased to neutrally function to hold free election. Many believe if the Chief Election Commissioner K M Nurul Islam is to be blamed to destroying free election in the country, the Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University Prof Akhtaruzzamaan is to be equally blamed this time to have torpedoed a free and fair DUCSU election.
Many feel it is a big shame that Dhaka University teachers made them party to such unfair polls sheltering goons to win election while credible candidates of other student bodies were denied fair electioneering opportunities. It is shame if senior teachers were found protecting sealed ballot boxes with fake ballots in thousands at different residential halls.
All student groups except BCL had earlier demanded polling center at academic buildings because ruling party students were controlling residential halls where there was no room for decent. The varsity declined to entertain their request.
They had also demanded transparent ballot boxes instead of tin made boxes, the varsity authorities ignored saying students can trust in their teachers to be running the polls. Surprisingly they also declined to allow polling agents at polling centers to check rigging.
ON polling day morning when they demanded that the polling officers open ballot boxes and show whether they are empty but such request were also reportedly ignored.
After long drama at some female residential halls students laid seize on polling centers, forced officers to stop polling. On duty polling officers were forced to open closed doors around where sacks of fake ballots were stored. At another hall students forced the polling officers, such as provosts and hall teachers to open at least three ballot boxes only to see them filled with sealed and unsealed ballots.
At male residential halls BCL control was total where students were left in queues waiting to cast their vote while BCL men were busy tempering ballots to make sure their victories. At the end their entire panel came out victorious except in female residential halls where BCL suffered severer defeat to independent candidates.
Announcing DUCSU election results drew till midnight when it appeared that BCL candidate for DUCSU Vice President Rejwanul Haque Chowdhury Shuvan was found losing bid to quota reform forum candidate NUrul Haq Nuru.
At the end of the day Vice Chancellor Prof Akhtaruzzaman announced Nuru was elected as DUCSU VP while claiming that the election was a free, fair and held in festive way. But the Chief Returning Officer Prof Mahfuzur Rahman said he was sorry for failing to hold a free election. Prof Syed Manzurul Islam went one step forward saying he was shamed and frustrated.
He said people had expected DUCSU election will play a reversing role to the ongoing election system of rigging and ballot box stuffing. Echoing his expectations people all over had also expected a change and had believed it will come from DUCSU election. But it failed and large number of varsity teachers have actively collaborated in this dirty game.
Members and supporters of five panels, who boycotted Monday’s Dhaka University Central Students’ Union (DUCSU) elections citing vote rigging, vowed to continue their protest until their four-point demand is met. The demands are: announcement of a fresh polls schedule, resignation of all the teachers and staff members involved in the “farcical” election, formation of a neutral election committee and withdrawal of all the cases filed against the agitating students.
Vice-chancellor Prof Akhtaruzzaman ruled out holding a fresh election. DUCSU VP-elect Nurul Haq Nur, however expressed solidarity with the call for fresh lection. To press home their demand, several hundred students brought out a procession in the campus on Wednesday and marched towards the VC’s office.
A six-member delegation met the VC at his office to hand over a memorandum. They briefed the VC about the irregularities they found during voting, including the discovery of stashes of ballot papers, both marked and unmarked, from two female halls.
After the meeting, Liton Nandi, the VP candidate of Progressive Student Alliance, told reporters that the VC rejected their demands. He has said election efforts of 450 Dhaka University teachers and officers can’t go in vain. He said he had no right to disregard their efforts but who will say how he is respecting the rights of the students for free election.
It appears most people at the helm of big institutions are busy to protect their position—be it the CEC or the VC; to them people are nothing, their luxury is all that matters.

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