Sunday, April 21, 2019 | ePaper

DUCSU should be above controversy

General students must be out of party politics

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Dr. Foqan Uddin Ahmed :
Dhaka University Central Students' Union (DUCSU), known as the country's second parliament; had played crucial roles in the Bangladesh's history. It started its journey in the year 1922 and at that time it was known as Dhaka University Students' Union (DUSU). The leaders of DUCSU were at the forefront of all democratic movements, including language and Independence of Bangladesh.
In the year 1939, the student leaders demanded as student union free from influence of university authorities and the students were successful in establishing their demands. During 1948-1952, the students of this union protested when Urdu was declared to be state language. In the year 1953, DUSU's name was changed to DUCSU.
The DUCSU leaders had a significant role in six point movement launched by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to realise autonomy for the then East Pakistan. During the 1969 mass upsurge, DUCSU leaders' role was undeniable which resulted in the withdrawn of Agartala Conspiracy Case and release of the Father of the Nation from jail. In the history of Liberation War, DUCSU's role was more than significant. The first effective election of DUCSU was conducted in the session of 1970-1971. DUCSU also had a decisive role in ousting former military dictator HM Ershad from power in 1990.
However, the long awaited election of DUCSU held on 11 March after long 28 years could contribute in ensuring a qualitative change in the national politics. This election is generally held to help student organisations to work independently and ensure students' rights. People have been incredulous about the outcome of the election as many people believe that the campus environment is favourable to a particular group only and not to the voters.
Nurul Haque Nur, Vice-Presidential nominee of the Quota Reform Movement, was beaten up. At the 18 halls of Dhaka University, an inordinately long spell of time was being expended in voting, with each voter taking between eight and 23 minutes to cast his or her vote. It was a mystery which deepened by the minute. Was there a covert attempt -- not so concealed in the event -- to deliberately prolong the voting process in order for the multitudes waiting out there not to be able to exercise their right of choice? Whatever it is, the intriguing bit was that in the long wait, many waited to vote at the halls before going away from the centres. It was rather surprising to the point of being bizarre that neither the VC nor any official of his administration thought it necessary to step up to the students to ensure that things were progressing smoothly.
At the halls, as eyewitness reports would have it, ruling party cadres busied themselves in checking the identities of voters. That was not their job, but they were doing it anyway and the university authorities looked away from it all. That attitude of pretending things were going on fine was wrong, an ostrich-like position that was clearly untenable.  Eight teachers of the university -- an unprecedented voicing of protest -- raised serious questions about the lapses in voting, or the less-than-ideal voting atmosphere prevailing on campus. Their worries were not attended too.
Despite all the suspicion and all the allegations, despite the protests of students outraged by all the goings-on and their demand that he quit office, the VC happily came forth with his confident assertion that the voting for a new DUCSU had gone well. Meanwhile, with news streaming in of Nurul Haque Nur having triumphed in the race for the vice-presidency of DUCSU, it was for the BCL to mount its own protest over what it saw as irregularities marring the election staging their own protests before the VC's residence.
Irony scaled new heights when they too demanded his resignation. That was not the end of the story, for more surprises were yet to be. Nur, having earlier taken himself and his team off the voting in protest, walked back in when he was certain he had beaten his rivals. Of course, the general secretary-elect was BCL's Golam Rabbani.  And of course, eight of the nine secretary level positions at DUCSU had gone to the ruling party's student wing. But none of that deterred Nur from transforming himself from an angry young man to a happy winner at the election.
The BCL president promised to work with him, seemingly sealing the pledge. Thus a new DUCSU was born. Or you could say a premier player in the history of Bangladesh has been resuscitated into life in however erratic a fashion. The degree to which the new leadership at DUCSU will be able to transform itself into an inspirational and idealistic force committed to the promotion of students' welfare is a reality which threatens to be overshadowed by everything that did not go right on 11 march 2019.
Nur has been made the hero of nation, and DUCSU election has been completed amidst of question, debate and controversies. At last, the long cherished desire of Dhaka University students has been fulfilled. The students love the students' union because it's the forum by which the student`s hopes and aspirations are reflected, irregularities in academic environment are removed. Leadership, good governance and voice against tyranny are restored. Renaissance and revivalism of nation comes through DUCSU. It is known as second parliament of the nation. A few months back, nation`s 11th parliamentary election has ended. but nation`s expectation for a credible, fair and free election has been a hidden subject to people in the grass root level. Moreover with this monopoly election democratic environment has become a farcical matter to nation. As history says DUCSU was in a position to face the blame game of national election. But DUCSU in totality in its recent election did not do it. There was the partial, dark episode like national election. But this can`t be accepted by nation. People from all walks of life have tremendously criticised as illegal activities were occurred in Bangladesh-Kuwait Moytri hall and the artificial disciplinary action in queues or standing lines for voting.
The former elected VPs and GS made hateful comments for it. Ex. VC, pro VC and conscious citizens had their remarks on the mismanagements, vote rigging and other unlawful activities. The students of Dhaka university are always progressive minded. They always want free fair and credible election. They do not like nepotism or partiality. They always hate conservative and negative notion, fraud and flattery. If there is fraudulence and forgery it never goes unchallenged by the students. In the election, some interested groups wanted to pollute the sanctity of Dhaka University. But no damage was done.
With the declaration of Nur as DUCSU VP, though after a long time; nation has been saved from political catastrophe. The future leadership would be doomed and even the nation`s pride and honour would be punctured if the real announcement could not come or the result is not exhibited. If it was hidden or suppressed, there were the chances of raising protests and demonstration in varsity which might be turned to a big movement against the establishment. With this announcement, students' sentiment was cool down. Their agitations have reduced, though students are not 100% happy.
 Some student had attacked Nur and Liton Nandi of progressive student forum. This created the Varsity situation tensed again. They decided to demonstrate and carry on a sit-in programme at university campus. Situation has been settled before going out of control. Nur has won the victory in favour of right, ethics and values. Nur`s win is a 'message' for the future leaders.
Nation expects Nur to be strong and steady to lead DUCSU with full of honour, dignity and humanity. People expect Nur not to be a black ship, or collaborator or flatterer. Is Nur capable enough to handle DUCSU with its old glory? We'll have to wait to get an answer.  
(Dr. Foqan Uddin Ahmed; writer, columnist and researcher)

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