Defeated candidates of ruling Awami League also allege 'vote rigging'

Voter turnout in the 12th parliamentary election has created much controversy. Many defeated candidates brought about allegations of irregularities including ballot stuffing immediately after the election. Not only candidates of Jatiya Party or king parties or independent ones, many defeated Awami League candidates also raised allegations of electoral irregularities.

Many candidates have brought about allegations of irregularities since 7 January, the election day. At least 25 candidates from Awami League, its allies, Jatiya Party and independents have so far complained about irregularities during the election. Four of them were Awami League candidates, two from alliance partners who contested with Awami League’s symbol boat and 15 are independent candidates belonging to Awami League.

Some candidates have already lodged written complaints with the Election Commission (EC). However, EC secretariat’s additional secretary Ashok Kumar Debnath told Prothom Alo, as per the law EC has nothing to do about these complaints once the gazette of election results is published.

The candidates who have allegations can go to the electoral tribunal or court, he added.

Complaints of boat candidates

Sanjida Khanam was the Awami League candidate in Dhaka-4 constituency.

She raised allegations of irregularities in 18 polling centers and lodged separate complaints to the returning officer on 7 January and to the chief election commissioner the following day. She filed a writ with the High Court on Tuesday. Independent candidate Md Awlad Hossain has won in this seat. He is a former assistant personal secretary to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Independent candidate Tahmina Begum defeated Awami League candidate Abdus Sobhan Golap by around 35,000 votes in Madaripur-3.

Tahmina is the president of Kalkini upazila Awami League.

Abdus Sobhan held a press conference at Madaripur Press Club two days after the polls and alleged that he had lost due to subtle rigging and conspiracies. He alleged that his rivals took control of 12 out of 16 polling centers in Kalkini pourashava and rigged the polls subtly.

Dhirendra Debnath Shambhu was elected member of parliament from Barguna-1 constituency five times. He was the candidate of Awami League this time too. However, he was defeated by an independent candidate.

Dhirendra Debnath came third among the four leaders of Barguna Awami League who contested there.

Dhirendra Debnath filed a written complaint to the district returning officer on Tuesday regarding irregularities in the election results. He alleged widespread irregularities during and rigging during the vote counting. The result was declared defying strong objection from the agents of boat candidates about vote counting, he alleged.

Manikganj-2 seat’s Awami League candidate Momtaz Begum lost to independent candidate and district committee’s treasurer Dewan Jahid Ahmed who ran the election with truck symbol.

Addressing a meeting on Tuesday, Momtaz alleged that she was defeated by rigging in several centers. Even the votes of some dead and expatriate voters were cast in favor of truck, she alleged.

Most allegations come from independents

Independent candidate of Rajbari-2 constituency Noor E Alam Siddiqui Haque made various allegations against Awami League men including intimidating voters , driving out his agents and casting fake votes. He is the central organising secretary of Krishak League, an associate organisation of Awami League. He applied to the EC on Tuesday to cancel the results of his constituency and demanded a re-election.

Supporters of Parvez Anwar, the defeated independent candidate in Kushtia-3, staged a protest and demanded the cancellation of the gazette alleging vote rigging in the constituency. Parvez Anwar's father Anwar Ali is the former general secretary of Kushtia district Awami League. A memorandum submitted to the returning officer alleged that boat supporters took control of most of the polling centers by 1:00pm on the day of voting. And then news of indiscriminate ballot stuffing in favour of boat started appearing.

Independent candidate of Pabna-3 and district Awami League member Abdul Hamid brought different allegations including vote rigging and forcible occupation of polling centers. Jamal Hossain, independent candidate of Faridpur-2 and Nagarkanda upazila Awami League secretary Jamal Hossain, also alleged irregularities and demanded re-election in some centers.

Allies, too, made allegations

Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JASAD) president Hasanul Haque Inu contested from Kushtia-2 constituency with ruling Awami League’s symbol. But he was defeated as an independent candidate. He complained that he was not defeated by people’s vote, rather by vote rigging.

Worker’s Party general secretary Fazle Hossain Badsha, who contested with the ruling party symbol, was defeated by an independent candidate. Badsha filed a written complaint to the EC alleging that voters could not go to polling centers due to intimidation.

Jatiya Party also brings allegation of rigging

Shamim Haider Patwary, a two-time Jatiya Party MP of Gaibandha-1 constituency, lost to an independent candidate by a margin of 26,000 votes. Shamim Haider alleged that despite low voter turnout throughout the day, the casting votes shown during the result indicates that vote was rigged.

A day after voting, Jatiya Party chairman GM Quader alleged the election was not fair and was a controlled one as per the wish of the government.

Trinamool, BNM also call out elections

Trinamool BNP’s secretary general Taimur Alam Khandakar was defeated by a huge margin in Narayanganj-1. He termed the election as a ‘staged’ one.

“The election was a government versus government show where boat and independents all actually belonged to the government. It seems that the country is heading towards a one-party system,” Taimur told the journalists.

Bangladesh Nationalist Movement (BNM) termed the 12th parliamentary election as a festivity of vote rigging.

The party’s acting chairman Shah Md Abu Jafar and secretary general Md Shahjahan alleged ballot stuffing started right from the beginning of the voting day. As a result, candidates of a certain party or independent ones won although voters did not come to vote.