106 multi-millionaire candidates in the 3rd phase

The TIB held a press conference at their office in the capital’s Dhanmondi on MondayProthom Alo

Around 67 per cent of the chairman candidates in the third phase of upazila elections are businesspersons. The number of multimillionaires among the candidates is 106, including 90 chairman candidates, 11 vice-chairman candidates and five women vice-chairman candidates.

This came up in the analysis of Transparency International Bangladesh on income and assets of the candidate based on the affidavits they submitted to the Election Commission (EC). The anti-corruption agency shared the figures in their analysis and review in a press conference at their office in the capital’s Dhanmondi on Monday.

TIB said the number of multimillionaires has been determined by analysing the movable assets as mentioned in the affidavits of the candidates. The immovable assets were not taken into account as it is hard to price it.

The TIB analysis shows, some 66.53 per cent of the chairman candidates in the third phase of upazila polls have introduced themselves as businesspersons. Agriculture came second in terms of professions mentioned by the candidates. Some 12.6 per cent candidates mentioned agriculture as their occupation. Besides, some 7.69 per cent candidates are lawyers and 4.37 per cent are teachers. Some 48.54 per cent of the woman vice-chairman is home makers and 32 per cent are businesspersons.

In the second phase of the upazila polls, some 71 per cent of the chairman candidates were businesspersons, including 105 multimillionaires. Some 70 per cent of the chairman candidates were businesspersons in the first phase of the upazila polls.

Addressing the press conference, TIB executive director Ifterkharuzzaman said the main questions are whether the businesspersons are coming to politics in a right way or they are joining politics to make profit. It is being observed that the assets of lawmakers increase exponentially during their tenure. As a result, the issue of public interest remains ignored.

The TIB in its observation said that the local government polls are also being dominated by the businessperson like the national elections. At the same time, the number of candidates involved in law practices and teaching is declining.

The TIB is saying despite various attempts, the ruling Awami League could not stop the relatives of lawmakers and ministers from taking part in the upazila polls. Some 18 of the candidates in the third phase of upazila polls are relatives or family members of MPs and ministers, including Ahsanul Alam, son of MP Jahangir Alam in Muradnagar of Cumilla, Raheed Sardar, son of MP Anwar Hossain in Raninagar of Naogaon, Ferdousi Islam, wife of MP Sirajul Islam of Shibpur in Narsingdi, is running for the upazila chairman post. The number of relatives of MPs and ministers contesting in the second phase of upazila polls was 17.

TIB Advisor (Executive Management) Sumaiya Khair, Outreach and Communication director Mohammad Tauhidul Islam, Outreach and Communication assistant coordinator Ikramul Haque and data visualization assistant coordinator KM Rafiqul Alam were present in the press conference. Outreach and Communication data visualisation assistant coordinator Rifat Rahman presented the information that came in the analysis of the affidavits.

Voting for some 90 upazilas in the country will be held on Wednesday in the third phase of upazila polls. Of them, voting will not be required in Bhandaria upazila of Pirozpur for having a single candidate against each post. Voting to two upazilas were cancelled earlier. Besides, the Election Commission has cancelled votes in 19 upazilas due to cyclone Rimal.

Among the chairman candidates, Ferdousi Rahman of Shibpur upazila is at the top of the list in terms of candidates with most movable assets. He is the wife of MP Sirajul Islam Molla.

Besides, six of the candidates own lands beyond the legal ceiling. As per the law, an individual can own a maximum of 100 bighas or 33 acres of land.

Nurul Alam, chairman candidate from Teknaf upazila in Cox’s Bazar is at the top of the list in terms of income rise. His income has risen by 104 times.

Movable asset of Delduar upazila chairman candidate has increased 98 times, which is the highest among the chairman candidates in the third phase of upazila polls.

Lack of accountability

TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman said, “It’s expected that income will rise in compliance with the law. However, we are seeing the tendency of lawmakers’ income and assets rising while in power. It must be addressed.”

Speaking regarding the scope of whitening black money, he said, “There is no such scope in the laws of the country. Through it, the government is sending a message to the common people that achieve as much illegal money and asset as you can and then come to us at the end of the year to get your clean certificate by donating. The government is encouraging corruption and unethical activities by this.”