Students of Dhaka University will cast their votes in the historic Dhaka University Central Students Union (DUCSU) polls after 28 years on Monday. The authorities have already sent the ballot boxes and papers to the polling centers in the residential halls on Sunday, evening defying several student bodies’ demand to send them on election day.
Left leaning progressive student alliance, quota reform movement’s platform, independent alliance and Swadhikar Satantra Parishad urged the authorities to send in the ballot papers and boxes in the morning of voting day. They staged a sit-in in front of vice chancellor’s office at around 3:30pm Sunday and handed over a memorandum to the VC to press home their demands.
Vice president candidate from the progressive student alliance Liton Nandi said they placed the memorandum demanding extension of the voting time to 6:00pm instead of 2:00pm, ensuring adequate transport facilities for non-residential voters to commute on voting day, giving free access to the media, allowing polling agents and using transparent ballot boxes.
The VC has listened to their demands but did not give any assurance, Nandi added.
Apprehensions on campus
The DU campus has worn a festive look with banners and posters all over. Enthusiasm is also high among the voters as they were seen discussing the election.
However, several students expressed their apprehension about fair voting as they said the ruling party student wing Bangladesh Chhatra League has total control in residential halls where the voting will take place.
A group of students at the faculty of business studies on Tuesday afternoon were discussing the election.
They said the students were enthusiastic about voting but were also apprehensive that the ruling party student wing might influence the polls.
Another student of the economics department said that the general students have a feeling that the vote might be rigged like the ‘30 December national election’.
VP candidate of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal alleged that the authorities were giving undue favour to the ruling party student wing and paying no heed to the demands of other candidates.
They are planning to hold yet another stage-managed election like eleventh parliamentary election, the JCD leader alleged.
General secretary candidate of Swadhikar Satantra Parishad ARM Asifur Rahman also alleged that the DU authorities were giving BCL candidates undue favour.
Assistant general secretary candidate of BCL panel Saddam Hossain binned such allegations.
“Many student organisations are not acting responsibly,” Saddam said, adding, “Chhatra League is going to get a clear mandate by the support of the voters.”
Asked about several unheeded demands of student bodies, DU proctor AKM Golam Rabbani at a briefing said, “Please don’t ask about what has not been done. Rather cooperate with us in holding a peaceful and participatory election.”
He also said additional police force would be deployed on campus on the voting day so that no one can create anarchy centering the election.
‘Female halls will be the decider’
Female students constitute 16,312 votes of the total 43,256 votes. Candidates of different panels said votes of five female residential halls will be the decider in DUCSU central union polls.
Several opposition candidates were confident about getting majority in female halls as ruling party student organisation has comparatively less control there.
VP aspirant from quota reformists' panel Nurul Haq claimed they will bag majority of votes in female halls as the female students participated in last year quota reform movement.
“They extended all-out support for the quota reform movement and we are hopeful that the female students will come out in large number to for vote us,” Nurul said.
How many candidates
A total of 229 candidates are contesting against 25 DUCSU posts. Among those, 21 are vice president contestants, 14 general secretary candidates and 13 assistant general secretary contenders.
In the hall union elections, a total of 509 aspirants are in race for 13 positions in each of 18 residential halls of the university.
Each voter will cast 38 votes in two ballot papers to elect their representatives -- 25 for the central union and 13 in respective hall unions.
According to the university administration, a total of 508 polling booths have been set in 18 residential dorms for the voting, reports UNB.
Among them, 25 polling booths have been set up at Jagannath Hall while 20 at Dr. Muhammad Shahidullah Hal, 30 at Haji Muhammad Mohsin Hall, 35 each at Shamsunnahar Hall, Salimullah Muslim Hall and Fazlul Huq Muslim Hall, 32 at Master Da Surja Sen Hall, 22 at Zahurul Haq Hall, 20 at Muktijoddha Ziaur Rahman Hall, 50 at Ruqayyah Hall, 20 each at Kabi Jasimuddin Hall, Amar Ekushey Hall and Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Hall , 16 at AF Rahman Hall, 24 at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Hall, 19 at Bangladesh-Kuwait Maitree Hall, 45 at Kabi Sufia Kamal Hall and 40 at Bijoy Ekattar Hall.