Nepal’s politically sensative colleges are holding elections of Free Student Union.
The election fever has caught politically sensitive colleges by fire. Pro-democracy students have vowed to use the election for the benefit of the ongoing democratic movement of their mother political organizations. Colleges are decorated with posters, pamphlets and banners. Elections of Free Student Union have historical significance in Nepali politics. They were one of the major mediums for political parties to reach out to the young demography of Nepal. Pics by Shaligram Tiwari
By Deepak Adhikari
Thursday afternoon, I made rounds of colleges of Kathmandu Valley in the eve of the FSU election. Come Feb 28, almost two hundred thousand students across the country will cast their vote, choose their leaders. This election is significant for today’s student leaders are tomorrow’s national leaders. Blogger-turned-reporter Post B Basnet (of the Kathmandu Post) and I visited Institute of Engineering (IOE) in our first leg of college tour. Election was in the air but most of the candidates were unaware of the agendas, be it political or educational.
I heard (rather eavesdrop) a red T-shirt clad lady student at IOE murmuring: “Always election, no study.” Her apathy towards election struck me. I wanted to have a word with her but she vanished leaving me with my thoughts. That students are aloof from politics is so unbecoming of them. This scenario in a college heading for electronic voting for the first time in Nepal was regrettable. An FSU member of the college told me it’s owing to the technicality of subject. I wouldn’t buy his argument and further grill him. He comes up with a quotable quote: “They are not frustrated with politics but are fed up with politicization of education.” At RR Campus, candidates were making rows in the entrance, batches stuck in their chests, eager to be introduced and beg for vote. I, looking like a college-goer, introduced myself as a journo; their perception towards me suddenly goes a sea-change. “Oh, please come in,” their words tinged with politeness and respect.
Supplying me with the lists of candidates, students gather around and listen eagerly to my questions on their agendas, their united candidacy (if any). But they say they aren’t following the footsteps of mother parties. Amidst all this, the election is marked by capturing the campus premises and blocking other candidates from filing their nominations, rebel candidates and so on
Students at IOE are planning to use electronic machine (below) to cast their votes for the first time in Nepal. Pic by Shailendra Kharel
Leaders of Saraswat Campus FSU were reportedly ‘abducted,’ election chief in Tri Chandra College resigned after student protest, gang fights among rival fractions occurred in RR College. In Saraswati and Tri Chandra election has been postponed. But the student leaders keep mum over such issues. “We are having an all party meeting,” one candidate in RR Campus told me as he was serving cold drinks to his potential voters. I spoke to two ex-student leaders : Rajendra Rai of ANNFSU and Bishwa Prakash Sharma of NSU. Rai lamented the lack of understanding about political culture among students. Sharma was enthralled that the FSU election was part of ongoing democratic (read loktantrik) movement.