The first election to Dhaka University Central Students' Union (DUCSU) in 28 years will be held on March 11. The voting will begin at 8:00am and end at 2:00pm, a DU press release said yesterday.
As the Ducsu president, DU Vice-Chancellor Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman set the date in line with Section 8 (E) of the student platform's charter.
Earlier in the day, he held two meetings on the election with the hall provosts and the advisory council at his office. The university authorities had started updating the voter list for the long-pending election in May last year and published the first draft on October 31.
“As of now, nearly 38,000 students have been listed as voters and we hope that the final list will have names of more than 42,000,” Proctor Prof AKM Golam Rabbani said yesterday. Students in 17 dormitories will cast their votes in their respective halls, according to the Ducsu constitution.
Student leaders have welcomed the move to finally hold the polls. DU Chhatra Union General Secretary Razib Das thanked the authorities for the initiative.
He, however, expressed fear that the election might not be fair as the polling booths would be set up inside the dormitories, which are dominated by Chhatra League, the pro-ruling Awami League student organisation. The DU BCL said there was nothing to fear.
“We want the polls to be held peacefully and the students to elect their representatives of choice,” Sonjit Chandra Das, president of the BCL, told The Daily Star. Nurul Haque Nur, a joint convener of Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Odhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad, urged the authorities to ensure a “congenial atmosphere” for the election.
A few days ago, leaders of the platform, which spearheaded the recent quota reform movement, expressed their desire to take part in the polls. Ducsu was formed in 1922, a year after the DU was established. The aim of the platform is to promote cultural activities at the university and foster a spirit of cooperation among the students of different dormitories.
The previous Ducsu election was held in 1990. It was won by Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal's Amanullah Aman and Khairul Kabir Khokan panel. Chhatra Dal is the pro-BNP student wing.
All these years, the DU authorities took several initiatives to hold the polls. But those were unsuccessful, mainly due to violence and the fear of violence.
After the 1990 election, the then vice-chancellor Prof Moniruzzaman Miah announced the schedule for the next polls on January 12, 1991. But a group of students staged demonstrations demanding introduction of “special admission”.
Later in 1994, the then VC Prof Emajuddin Ahmed announced an election schedule but that attempt was also halted. At that time, the BCL claimed the atmosphere for the polls was missing. The committee constituted through the 1990 election was dissolved in 1998.
Following a writ petition filed by 25 former DU students in March 2012, the High Court on January 17 last year directed the authorities concerned and the government to hold the election in six months. Ali Asif Shawon, one of the 25 students, welcomed the move saying that they filed the writ to get back their “democratic right”.
“We have earlier seen that the university authorities failed to hold the polls several times even after declaring the schedule. We don't want a repetition of that. We urge the authorities to hold a fair and inclusive election,” he told this newspaper.
Following an appeal filed by the DU authorities, a Supreme Court chamber judge stayed the HC verdict on October 1 last year. In the appeal, the university authorities said they had decided to hold the polls by March 15 this year.
Last Sunday, Ducsu polls Chief Returning Officer Prof SM Mahfuz said the schedule was likely to be announced in the first week of February.
For the election, the authorities held the first meeting of Paribesh Parishad, a body formed in the absence of Ducsu, on September 15 last year. It comprises representatives from the university authorities and different student organisations. After the meeting, the DU VC said the Ducsu polls might be held by this March. The student platform played a key role in all the movements during the 1971 Liberation War and the autocratic Ershad regime ousted in 1990.
Source: Daily Star