I've been very careless with my helmet. It's old and dilapidated which was why I used to leave it unlocked. Yesterday morning when my brother suggested me to buy a new one, I dismissed it saying that the new one will be stolen. But, the thief must have been in dire need of a helmet of any hue. When I approach my bike at Kantipur Complex, it looked as if something was amiss. As I was scrutinizing the vicinity hoping to discover it lying somewhere, The Kathmandu Post reporter Kiran Chapagain who looks after legal affairs told me there were numerous cases of stolen helmets among TKP staffers.
Then, I waited a while for my colleague Dinesh Jung Shah. I was thinking of requesting for a lift because we both live in Ghattekulo area. But he was so engrossed in phone conversation that I had to give it up. I boarded a Nepal Yatayat bus.
I was a bit jaded. During afternoon, I had made rounds of colleges of Kathmandu Valley in the eve of the Free Student Union (FSU) election. Come Feb 28, almost two hundred thousand students studying in government colleges across the country will cast their vote to elect their leaders. This election is significant, for today's student leaders are tomorrow's national leaders. Blogger-turned-reporter Post Basnet and I visited Institute of Engineering (IOE) in our first leg of college tour. Election was in the air but most candidates has scant knowledge about the agendas whether political or educational.
I heard (rather eavesdropped) 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 very regrettable. An FSU member of the college attributed such indifference to the technicality of subject. I wouldn't buy his argument. I further grilled him. He came 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 ask for vote. As soon as I introduced myself as a journo, their perception towards me suddenly changed. "Oh, please come in," their words tinged with politeness and respect.
Supplying me with the lists of candidates, students gathered around and listened to my questions on their agendas, their united candidacy (if any). But, they also said they weren't guided by their mother parties such as Nepali Congress, UML, among others. This surprised me. Amid all this, the election was marked by capturing the campus premises and blocking other candidates from filing their nominations, rebel candidates and so on.
Leaders of Saraswati 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 kept 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.