Questionable election to be held under cover of ‘credibility’

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It is evident from the recent incidents circling the upcoming 12th parliamentary elections that a questionable poll is going to take place under the ‘cover of credibility”. And the government is desperate to execute “these special electoral activities in Bangladesh”.

There will be no “actual opposition candidates” in elections to be held on 7 January; rather the voters will have to choose from the disorganised candidates of ruling Awami League. It will be reflected in the presence of voters in an environment of uncontested election.

A Western mission in Bangladesh made this assessment in an observation sent to its headquarters recently regarding the 12th national elections. A Western diplomatic source confirmed Prothom Alo about sending the assessment report.

The report sent from Dhaka states that people have started calling this election as “special electoral activities”. In this regard, the assessment cited an interview of Awami League presidium member and agriculture minister Abdur Razzaque with a private TV channel aired on 17 December.

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During that interview, Abdur Razzaque said the BNP leaders were offered release from prison on condition of joining the polls. However, they rejected the proposal. He even said the government had no other alternatives to maintain stability in the country.

Later, Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader rejected his statement saying it was his (Abdur Razzque) personal statement.

The report regarding the upcoming general polls in Bangladesh also mentioned the discontent among the candidates from the party and its alliance over nomination-related issues, including 70 incumbent MPs failing to secure the party nomination, allies in the 14-party alliance getting only six constituencies and Awami League candidates withdrawing candidacy for the ‘dummy opposition candidates.

The report says a large section of the Awami League leaders who failed to secure nomination from the party has decided to contest the polls against these dummy candidates. As a result, the support is increasing exponentially towards the independent candidates instead of the party nominated candidates at the grassroots.

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Jatiya Party (JaPa) chairman GM Quader was forced by the intelligence agencies to reach a negotiation with the Awami League with 25 seats. The JaPa candidates will face the dummy candidates close to the ruling party.

It has been learnt that the hartals (strikes) called by the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami after the ruling party officially started its electoral campaign on 18 December and subsequent suppression that the opposition parties have been subjected to, have also come up in the report.

Specially the arrests of BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and around 20,000 other leaders and activists of the BNP and keeping them imprisoned in a very small space and the allegation of torturing six BNP activists to death in custody have been mentioned in the report.

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Regarding the election violence erupted in the country, the report states that the law enforcement agencies are not the lone driving force behind the violence taking place, members from both sides are applying force to exert their power.

Four people were killed after miscreants set a compartment of a Dhaka-bound train on fire. Although both Awami League and BNP have blamed each other for that tragic incident, the real culprit is still beyond the reach of the law enforcement agencies, it added.

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