All eyes are on tomorrow’s city corporation election in Khulna where around 500 thousand people will cast their votes. If the law enforcement agency, the police, performs their duties with neutrality, it is expected to be a model election.
The positive aspect of this election is that both the ruling Awami League candidate and the opposition BNP candidate have relatively clean images. In Gazipur there had been problems over selecting the ruling party candidate, but not so in Khulna. In fact, both the main contenders in Khulna have past successes under their belts. So far there haven’t been any serious clashes or ugly incidents during the election campaign.
However, it would have been vastly preferable if a level playing field could actually have been ensured in the Khulna city election. It is clear that the election commission has a marked bias towards the ruling party and is sterner when it comes to BNP. Worse still, the police have been picking up and arresting BNP leaders and activists during their campaigning. Not a single Awami League leader or activist has been arrested. It is the active campaigners of BNP that have been detained. This creates the apprehension that the police will pose as an obstacle to free and fair elections. The election observers will certainly have their eyes on the law enforcers at tomorrow’s election.
It will be nothing short of unfortunate if hardliners in the ruling party decide they must win the Khulna city polls by any means. After all, it is a challenge for the present government to hold a free, fair and credible election to the 300 parliamentary seats. It would be a display of weakness if a party that has been for two successive terms in government and has an absolute majority in parliament, resorts to any means to win this local government election. The success of tomorrow’s election depends much on the attitude of the ruling party. The role of the opposition party is also vital.
If the election commission can hold tomorrow’s election without a hitch, it will earn the confidence of the people concerning the Gazipur and three other city elections to be held after Eid.
Certain quarters within the election commission have indicated that they will be able to hold a free and fair election if the police cooperate. The fact remains, no matter who pulls the strings from behind, the election commission will bear the brunt of blame if the election is rigged.
It is hoped that the Khulna election imbibes a spark of hope among the people. With security ensured, the voters should be able to cast their votes in a festive mood. Don’t disappoint the people of Khulna.