Election commissioner Mahbub Talukder on Wednesday said the most apprehensive thing about the latest upazila election is people’s indifference towards the polls.
“The lack of people’s enthusiasm in elections is taking the country towards an abyss. Bangladesh is now moving towards the uncertainty of an authoritarian rule,” the commissioner said.
“This looks very ominous for a democratic nation. Democracy must be upheld through fair elections,” he observed.
Mahbub read out a written statement before newsmen at his office as the upazila election came to an end in five phases.
Raising questions about whether the local government election followed the principles of the Constitution, Mahbub Talukder said there is no scope for any outsider to meddle into the affairs of local government. The election will not be free and fair if there is any interference from outside.
“We don’t want to join the cortege of democracy,” Mahbub Talukder said.
The election commissioner also said this time the upazila parishad election was one-sided as no opposition took part in the electoral process. One-sided election is not a good sign for democracy. Democracy upholds the opinion of the most number of people and that must come through pluralism.
Mahbub Talukder said one-sided election loses its colour as it does not reflect the opinion of the most. "Creating conducive environment for all the parties is a must for their participation in the election. But gradually we are moving towards one-party election, which is unwanted for democracy," he said.
Indicating the interferences by the MPs of ruling Awami League in the upazila election, the election commissioner said, “Upazila election cannot be free, fair and acceptable if it is not free of the parliament members’ influences. Their role has destroyed the sanctity of upazila parishad. In some cases, the election commission or parliament secretariat issued letters (to the administration) to refrain the MPs as they violated the code of conduct."
Regarding expectations from the local government institution, Mahbub Talukder said upazila parishad will fail to fulfil public aspirations if it observes duties being a servitor of someone and renounces its democratic characteristics.
"This might raise questions about the local government elections. This question is not about good or bad practices in elections. Rather, the question is if the main purpose of election is hampered, is there any necessity of holding an election for the sake of maintaining a rite?" Mahbub wondered.