In a first, pro-govt students sweep Ducsu polls

A frontal view of the Ducsu Bhaban. Photo: Prabir Das

For the first time since independence, the panel from the pro-ruling party student organisation has won majority of the Ducsu posts.

In Monday's Dhaka University Central Students' Union polls, pro-Awami League Chhatra League bagged 23 of the 25 posts. Candidates from the student body won big in hall union elections as well.

A total of eight panels as well as independent candidates participated in the much-awaited polls, held after 28 years.

The Ducsu was formed in 1922, a year after the university was established. The student union's aim is to promote cultural activities at the DU and foster a spirit of cooperation among the students of different dormitories.

After Bangladesh's independence in 1971, seven Ducsu elections were held between 1972 and 1990. In those polls, panels of pro-government students' rivals secured almost all the top three central unit posts -- vice president, general secretary and assistant general secretary.

The first two elections took place in 1972 and 1973, when the AL was in power.

The BCL did not get any of the three posts in the first election. Sensing another defeat in the second one, ballot boxes were snatched. The results were not announced.

During the BNP founder Ziaur Rahman's regime, two more Ducsu elections were held in 1979 and 1980. In those elections, Chhatra League and Chhatra Union secured the majority while the pro-BNP Chhatra Dal did not get a single post in the central unit.

The DU saw three more Ducsu elections during the regime of former military dictator HM Ershad. Then, the ruling party's student wing, Chhatra Samaj, also could not bag a single post.

But in Monday's election, marred by irregularities, Chhatra League won the posts of general secretary, assistant general secretary and 21 others. The vice president and the social welfare secretary were elected from the panel of the quota reformists.

Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Mustak Ahmed, a former Ducsu general secretary, said, “Dhaka University students prefer the opposition when it comes to bargain with the university authorities on student rights issues.

“But this time the whole scenario has been different. However, the results would have been different if the election had been fair.”

He also said the announcement of election boycott by several panels put an impact on the election results. “If you look at the Ruqayyah Hall results, it is clear why Chhatra League won.”

In the previous Ducsu election held in 1990, Chhatra Dal won all the central union posts. But in Monday's polls, the pro-BNP student body did not get a single post, not even in hall unions.

“Chhatra Dal could not enter the campus for 10 years and voters were barred from casting ballots,” BNP leader Khairul Kabir Khokon, a former general secretary of Ducsu, told The Daily Star.

He claimed that a free and fair election would have produced different results.

“In the female halls, voting was more or less fair and the independent candidates won the majority posts,” he said, demanding a re-election.

Many other former Ducsu leaders alleged that the ruling AL destroyed the entire “electoral system”.

Communist Party of Bangladesh President Mujahidul Islam Selim, who was the first elected Ducsu vice president after independence, said, “It's nothing but cheating. It reflects the ruling party's tendency to stage farce.

“Earlier, students were given lessons on morality and honesty. But now, they are taught vote rigging and election engineering.”

Asked, he threw a counter question: “How can you analyse polls results when the entire election system is faulty?”

However, a former Ducsu leader from the ruling Awami League, Akhtaruzzaman, sees things differently. 

The BCL panel swept this election because of organisational weaknesses in other panels, he said.

“The opposition student fronts failed to remain organised for a long time. General students believe that only the Chhatra League has the ability to bargain on their rights issues with the university authorities. That's why the Chhatra League panel won,” he added. 

In Bangladesh's politics, the BNP is the archrival of the AL. But in this year's Ducsu polls, Chhatra Dal candidates could not win any of the central or hall union posts. 

Talking to this newspaper, campus sources said there had been no trace of the student organisation on the campus for years. Chhatra Dal leaders were detached from students and that was the reason of their poor performance in the polls, they said.

For the VP post, Chhatra Dal candidate Mostafizur Rahman came fifth bagging only 245 votes. JCD general secretary contender Anisur Rahman got just 462 votes and became sixth.