DUCSU election too, marred by rigging allegations
The first ever Dhaka University Central Student's Union (DUCSU) election has been held on March 11 since 1990 amid violence and allegation of vote swindling. More than 42,000 students were enlisted as voter. DUCSU president Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman announced the result of DUCSU and hall union election result at midnight. A total of eight panels as well as independent candidates participated in the much-awaited polls.
From the beginning it was feared that the election might not be fair as the polling booths would be set up inside the dormitories, which are dominated by Chhatra League (BCL), the pro-ruling Awami League student organization. All the panels and many independent candidates had boycotted the election and sought to arrange the election again, fearing polling irregularities. The panels and their supporters and activists staged protests while demanding resignation of the VC. A fresh spate of violence broke out by confining the VC by BCL students on Monday morning.
This election has been characterized by many of the old set of misconducts recorded in all forms of elections in Bangladesh. However, for the first time the winner for the Vice President (VP) post had boycotted the election. For the first time the pro-government panel won majority of seats, securing 23 of the 25 positions. Independent candidates won in all the girls' hall union elections except one while in all the boys' hall union Chhatra League secured victory.
Scholars opined that the vote casting in the girls' halls were more or less fair and that is why the independent candidates won the majority posts. Many former DUCSU leaders have alleged that the party in power to have destroyed the entire DUCSU electoral system.
Since the defeated opponent candidate accepted his defeat we hope tensions would not further escalate regarding the recently ended DUCSU polls. We expect to see fair DUCSU and hall unions' election on a regular basis in the future.
Most importantly, the DUCSU election should be held under the existing charter. The prime purpose of DUCSU is to be the voice for the welfare of students and that voice has been unheard for too long. The charter's rulebook on the election should be kept unchanged. The demand that non-regular students--that is, students not enrolled in the bachelor's or master's degree courses--be allowed to participate does not hold ground. We feel that only regular students should be eligible for contesting the election. Additionally, locating polling centres in the right place is also crucial for ensuring free and fair election outcome.
Now that the DUCSU polls are over, we will expect the winning party to bring back the glory of DUCSU and move forward to ensure free, fair and credible DUCSU polls in the future.