Nepal’s elected body of Free Students’ Union was established in 1979 after a nationwide students’ protests against the then royal regime called Panchayat System. I don’t know how the student bodies in other countries work, but from what i learn from the news i think Nepal’s as well as Bangladesh & Pakistan’s student unions function the same way. Well, my guess is based on the violence reports that come during the campus elections in Nepal, Bangladesh, & Pakistan. The Bahun student chiefs of Nepal have already warned their rivals of not only beating in the polls, but also of breaking each other’s backbones.
The phrase ‘Free Students Union’ itself is a misnomer, since although they call themselves the Students’ Union, all contesting groups in fact are student wings of the major political parties – hence they work more in the interest of their mother parties than for the academic needs of students. The two major political streams of students unions, the Nepal Stduents’ Union (NSU) affiliated to the Nepali Congress party and the various factions of left wings All Nepal National Free Stduents’ Union(ANNFSU) worked against the King’s Rule until a Multi-Party democracy was established in 1990. Since then the NSU & the United Marxist-Leninist (UML) affiliated ANNFSU have been contending against each other bitterly until the last election held in 2006.
If you’d ask me why the left wing student union ANNFSU dominated its rival NSU in all past elections, I’d ask you to compare the NSU and the ANNFSU Websites. When the NSU website unfolded before my eyes, the first thing l noticed was the jolly picture of their grandfather Girija Prasad Koirala. Suddenly I was happy that I did not vote for any NSU candidate in the last election. And if you’d compare the photo galleries of NSU and ANNFSU websites, you’ll suddenly realize why most students chose the ANNFSU in past elections. However, there’s a dilemma this time – there are new kids in the Campuses – the Maoist Party affiliated Revolutionary Union.
However, it seems that ethnic issues would be most influential in determining the outcome of this year’s student elections which is slated for 20th of March. The student bodies of an ethnic group Limbu in the eastern mountains, the Limbuwan Students’ Council (LSC) have vandalized the Panchthar Multiple Campus and forced to put off the election until next notice. The Limbu students demand for a proportional election system in their stronghold areas covering nine districts. Even if the elections are held in other campuses, I’m sure that the only basis for choosing the representatives this time would be the cultural & ethnic one. The Madhesi students in Terai would choose Madhesi candidates, Newars in Kathmandu would choose Newar candidates, and so on.
As for me, i hate breaking any bone, and i’d boycott the NSU, Brahmin & Chhetri, & the bone-breakers and choose among the rest.
UPDATE on March 19: I’m boycotting this year’s student election to protest the continued violence and even more politicization in the campuses. However, I’m aware that someone from the contesting student groups would vote for me – hey losers, if you suspect poll-rigging and are demanding for re-polling, check the voters’ list to make sure if a voter with my name has voted or not – if you find that I’ve cast my vote then be sure that your rivals were more clever this time. For, i’ll be absent in this year’s campus election.