Speakers at a webinar said public opinion is not reflected in the elections if the voter turnout is low.

They said that there was a trend of having no opposition or strong competitors in the election. 

Forum for Bangladesh Studies on Tuesday organised the webinar titled 'City corporation election: What are the indications for politics?' Professor Mahmudul Hasan of International Islamic University, Malaysia, delivered the welcome speech while journalist Monir Haidar moderated the event.

Speaking as the main speaker, local government expert Tofail Ahmed said there are indications from the local elections or other elections ahead of the national elections whether there is a proper election system in place.

An indication of how much the people have confidence in the ruling party can be understood from these elections, he noted.

Pointing to the scenario of recent elections, Tofail Ahmed said the voters have no interest in going to the polling stations as there are no opposition parties or competition. This has been a trend in the elections, he added.

Tofail Ahmed said the elections are now being held out of legal obligation. People have grievances for various reasons but they can do nothing, he added.

Ali Riaz, distinguished professor of the politics and government department at Illinois State University, said it seems that the election commission has no interest in holding a fair election. This is just routine work.

He said the election commission is not giving any explanation why they are using EVM in the city corporation election as EVM will not be used in the national election.

Ali Riaz said it does not matter whether BNP participates in the election or not. It is BNP's affair whether they want to commit suicide. But the general people don't want to commit suicide and their voting rights have to be ensured.

Saying people should not be blamed, Professor Riaz said the institutions have been destroyed and a culture of fear has been created. Taking all these into consideration, the people should not be blamed, he said adding whether people want alternatives or not, they have to be given a scope and a fair election has to be arranged.

Dhaka University professor Asif Nazrul said a fair election is a way to understand what the people think.

Pointing out that thousands of false and fabricated cases have been filed against people, he said a large number of people are gathering at the rallies of the opposition party. This is not right that the people keep silent, he said adding people are not going to cast their votes and this is some sort of response, it is rejection.

Claiming that the way the election is taking place now is anti-constitution and against the spirit of the liberation war, Asif Nazrul said it is proved that a fair election takes place during the caretaker government which has to be restored, otherwise an all-party government can be formed by changing the head of the present government.

Mentioning that the people have lost interest in elections, former secretary Abu Alam Shahid Khan said there is evidence that public servants can arrange fair elections.

If the government does not interfere and give directives to hold a fair election, the public servants are capable of holding the election accordingly, he added.

Shahid Khan also said if a caretaker government remains in power and does not want a fair election, then the election will not be fair.

In the concluding remark, Independent University professor Zahidur Rahman said an environment for elections in Bangladesh is not existing anywhere. Even fair elections are taking place in Thailand and Myanmar where junta governments are in power.