KATHMANDU, Feb 27: The Free Student Union (FSU) elections to be held at campuses affiliated to Tribhuvan University (TU) on the rescheduled date of March 1 have become uncertain as the padlocking of major campuses across the country continues.
TU has 60 constituent campuses while over 1,000 other campuses including community colleges across the country are affiliated to it. More than 350,000 students are possible voters in the FSU polls.However, almost all constituent campuses have been padlocked by student unions affiliated to various political parties.
The student union affiliated to the Netra Bikram Chand-led CPN (Maoist), Nepal Students Union affiliated to the Nepali Congress and student unions affiliated to the Madhes-based parties including the Federal Socialist Forum have padlocked several TU-affiliated campuses, putting forth various demands.
“It is almost impossible to hold the FSU polls even on the rescheduled date,” said Sudip Sharma, spokesman for All Nepal National Free Student Union, affiliated to the main opposition CPN-UML. Sharma, however, added that because of the TU exams which will begin soon and last for months, the FSU polls will be unlikely in the near future if the date is rescheduled again. "Some student unions are hatching conspiracy against the FSU polls," he said.
Purna Bahadur Singh, president of the student union affiliated to Chand's party, claimed that they were not against holding the FSU polls. “We want the election but we have demanded to stop illegitimate admission of students aimed at influencing the election,” he said.
Singh's union has padlocked dozens of TU-affiliated campuses across the country though he said it's not their policy to padlock campuses. “Students affiliated to our union might have padlocked some campuses, protesting against unfair issues at the respective campuses,” he claimed.
Nominations for the FSU polls could be filed only at five campuses in the Kathmandu Valley so far -Sanothimi Campus, Public Administration Campus, Institute of Medicine (IOM), Koteshwor Campus and Institute of Engineering on Saturday. Students vandalized rooms and furniture at RR Campus, Nepal Law Campus and Patan Multiple Campus in the Kathmandu Valley. TU has extended the date for nominations till tomorrow.
Prof Dr Tirtha Raj Khaniya, Vice Chancellor of TU, said that the election process is moving forward amid difficulties. “I am positive about holding the FSU polls though things are not certain yet,” he added.
A meeting of student unions and TU authorities on February 16 had decided to hold the FSU polls on March 1, which was earlier scheduled for February 25.
A TU Senate meeting last month decided that students contesting the FSU polls should not be above 28 years of age. This is the first time that TU has set an age bar for the candidates in the over four decades of history of the FSUs.
The last FSU election was held eight years ago though TU has the provision of holding the polls every two years.