Ashraful Hossain alias Hero Alam was a much-talked about candidate of the Bogura-4 (Kahalu-Nandigram) and Bagura-6 by-elections. He was defeated only by 834 votes in a stiff contest in the constituency of Bogura-4. However, he is going to lose deposit in Bogura-6 constituency. Hero Alam has brought about an allegation that his defeat was due to manipulation of results. He said he would go to the High Court to get justice. After a day of the election, he talked to Prothom Alo about the overall situation. Prothom Alo staff correspondent Anwar Parvez took the interview
You were candidate of two constituencies with electoral symbol 'ektara'. How was the voter response? Although you had a stiff contest in one constituency, you lost your deposit in another.
The election field was vibrant in both the constituencies ahead of voting. But the scenario changed in Bogura-6 constituency after voting had started. Many polling stations were forcefully occupied. My election agents were ousted and beaten up. There was no remedy despite lodging complaints to the returning officer. In such a situation, hopes of victory were to be abandoned in Bogura sadar. My deposit has been lost as I was defeated in a planned manner. However, the voting was held peacefully in Bogura-4 (Kahalu-Nandigram) constituency. My victory was almost certain. But results have been changed through manipulation.
You have brought about allegations of election rigging. What is the basis of this allegation? What is the proof?
Votes have not been rigged in this constituency, results were stolen shamelessly. Voters have voted for me spontaneously. But so-called educated officials have changed the results in a moment as they feel belittled to address an uneducated boy like me as 'sir'. Results of polling stations were supposed to be provided to my election agents but the results of a number of polling stations were not given. While announcing results at a temporary control room of the election commission at Nandigram upazila of 49 polling stations, results of 1 to 39 polling stations were announced center-wise. When the victory of 'ektara' was certain, declaration of results were suspended all of a sudden. After sometime, JSD candidate AKM Rezaul Karim Tansen was declared winner showing higher number of votes of electoral symbol 'torch' instead of declaring centre-wise results of 10 polling stations. What is the reason behind not declaring center-wise results of 10 polling stations? 28 votes were cast in a polling station, but additional numbers were shown while counting. 307 votes were cast in favour of 'ektara' in another polling station, but the number was shown seven during counting. I have called all election agents. I will file a writ with the High Court with all information and proof. An injustice has been done with me, I will prove that to the people.
Agents of ektara were not available in all polling stations of two constituencies. Election coordinators and active activists were not seen. Why such a lack in preparation of election?
Agents of 'ektara' were in all 112 polling stations of Bogura-4 constituency. They have worked actively. After the completion of voting, they have collected election results on their own initiative. In these results, ektara was way ahead. But the agents were not provided results from polling stations. I myself was the election coordinator. General voters were my active workers. They monitored the overall situation from centre to centre.
Agents of ektara were not seen in all polling stations of Bogura-6 constituency.
The activists of boat, the electoral symbol of Awami League, ousted my agents from many polling stations of Bogura-6 constituency. My agents were attacked and beaten up. No measures have been taken despite filing complaints to the returning officer.
You are claiming that results of Bogura-4 constituency have been snatched away. Have you filed a written complaint to the returning officer?
There were no candidates of 'boat' and 'sheaf' electoral symbol of BNP, in this constituency. The voters had little interest in the election in the beginning. As they like me so much, irrespective of parties, all went to the polling stations in a festive mood to cast votes for ektara. Torch was not in the contest there. However, the torch was shown winner by changing results all of a sudden. The victory of ektara was snatched away. Voters don't want to accept these results so I rejected the results. I have taken preparation to file a writ with the High Court seeking cancellation of the results. What is the benefit of complaining to the returning officer? There was no benefit of complaining about the irregularities of voting in Bogura sadar to the returning officer so there will not be any benefit seeking cancellation of results. The election commission is incompetent. The High Court is the only place of trust.
What is the reason of changing the results?
There are some educated persons who do not want to accept me. They think their honour will harmed and the honour of Bangladesh will also be harmed if I become a member of parliament. These so-called educated persons think they would have to address this uneducated and ignorant person as 'Sir'. This is their objection. They do not want to accept me, so the election results have been changed.
But as per the law you have no bar to go to the parliament.
The election commission is incompetent that has been proved once again to the nation. What was the necessity of holding such an election of farce? What would happen if the candidates loyal to the government were declared winners? What was the necessity of this drama in the name of election by spending taxpayers' money? There were conspiracies from the very beginning. Being frightened of my popularity, nomination was cancelled twice without any logic. I got my candidature by filing writ in the High Court. I demanded installation of CCTV in the polling stations in the beginning to ensure fair elections. The CCTVs were not installed so the farcical election could be staged. Moreover, fair voting was held in one constituency, but results of that was changed because they would not accept me. If such farce is arranged in the name of election, the election system will go into exile. People will forget about voting and democracy. The country will go down due to the so-called educated people.
You launch a legal battle for cancelling the results. What are the activists and supporters talking about?
Voters of Bogura-4 constituency are in no way able to accept the results as the voters went to most of the polling stations to cast their votes for Hero Alam. I have decided to go to the High Court seeking cancellation of results in a bid to return voting rights to the voters.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.