The Dhaka University Central Students' Union (Ducsu) polls will be held on March 11, after a 29-year gap. A total of 229 candidates will contest for 25 central Ducsu posts. Nurul Haque Nur, Quota Reform Movement leader, and candidate for the post of vice-president, in an interview with Dhaka Tribune's Ahmmed Sharjin Sharif, talked about the upcoming election
What is your assessment of the election environment?
All the participants, candidates, and their respective panels are campaigning, unobstructed, on the campus. However, I doubt that this will last as when general students [political newcomers] protest, the ruling party's student wing attacks them; and the university's administration does not bring the attackers to justice.
You have complained about repeated attacks on you, and your organization, by a particular student wing. Why are you being attacked?
We continuously protest for the students' demands; this makes us quite popular among the general students but strikes fear among student organizations as they believe they will lose this voter base. Thus, the organizations attack the leaders and members of the Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Adhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad.
You are participating in the Ducsu polls despite not being a political student organization. What response are you getting?
There is a tremendous response from among the general students because in most cases, typical student organizations do not unite for the demands of the general students. We have always supported the students to ensure their demands are addressed.
A media report said the Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal has decided not to form a coalition with you because of your alleged involvement with the Islami Chhatra Shibir. What do you have to say about this?
There is no evidence for such baseless allegations. A number of ministers and MPs labelled the protest an anti-government activity backed by Jamaat-e-Islam and BNP, however, they have not provided evidence of Jamaat's or BNP's involvement with us. Additionally, Shibir's politics is sort-of prohibited, so there is no chance of associating with them.
How true is the statement that you and your organization are in touch with the expelled Jamaat leader Manjur?
An obscure online newspaper wrote that the two leaders of the Quota Reform Movement and the expelled by Jamaat leader Monju are linked. They did not mention any names; which is an example of bad journalism.
If the news article was unfounded, did you take any counter-measures regarding it?
None of our names were mentioned in the story, but despite that, we did send a protest letter to the newspaper authorities.
You were unable to provide a full panel in the Ducsu polls. Is there a crisis regarding the leadership?
No, we did give a full panel. But, as we were in a rush on the first day, only the names of 19 candidates were announced at the time.
What is your situation in the hall parliament?
Since we have yet to develop as a student organization, we have not been able to provide full panels for the different halls, but our supported candidates are contesting for different halls.
If elected, what do you want to do?
We all know what happens in the halls in the name of politics; providing hall seats in exchange for participation in political programs, guestroom oppression, and so forth. We will work to eradicate such activities.
We will try to: ensure hall seats for the first year students, stop extortion done by the ruling party's student wing, modernize and expand our existing libraries, and increase the research budget.
If elected, we can work with the university administration to solve these problems.
Where do you see yourself among the other candidates?
The leaders of other student organizations distance themselves from the general students, but we have a warmer relationship with the students; that is my greatest strength.
Why are you taking part in the Ducsu polls?
Despite the evidence of Chhatra League torturing us, the university administration has not taken action against them. To stand beside the [attacked] students, to initiate change, we are participating in the polls.
Do you wish to form a political party in the future?
Thus far, we do not want to form a political party.
How do you see the current government position regarding quotas?
The government, because of the Quota Reform Movement, partially accepted our demands. Respecting the government's decision, and to prevent further oppression, we accepted its decision.
After the Ducsu polls do you see the need for political student organizations in the university?
All leaders and acclaimed politicians of our country have been involved in student politics. Political student organizations are needed for those who want to become professional politicians. Democratic values, respect for dissent, and other moral and ethical aspects of politics form at this level. Also, there is a strong need for non-political student organizations.
Then why did you not form coalitions with other political student organizations?
Chhatra Union and other leftist political student organizations have made positive contributions; but they have a specific political ideology. Chhatra League and Chhatra Dal only serve their parties' interests. That is why we wanted to unite the general students of Dhaka University; to provide them a platform that stands firm with truth and justice. We will not hesitate to stand beside them when they demand something that is just, right, and honest.