Staged, suicidal competition taking place in the elections

Citizen’s Platform for SDGs organised a press briefing at the city’s Brac Center today
Prothom Alo

The national election is going to be competitive but it is staged and mostly suicidal one and this election cannot be called participatory rather it can be termed as ‘special electoral activity’.

Speakers said this at a press conference titled ‘Citizen’s agenda for inclusive development and fairness’. Citizen’s Platform for SDGs organised the press briefing at the city’s Brac Center today.

Transparency International Bangladesh’s (TIB) executive director Iftekharuzzaman chaired the event.

Replying to queries of newsmen during the programme, Iftekharuzzaman said this election can be termed constitutionally correct and thus cannot be challenged legally. But it cannot be called participatory.

Iftekharuzzaman, who is also a core group member of the platform, said it is clear that participation of all possible parties and candidates could not be ensured in this election and such a situation was not created. That’s why people’s voting rights are not safeguarded.

He said the situation prevailing is risky. Those who have created such a situation are also aware that this condition may give rise to undemocratic forces. None wants such a situation as it is risky for all citizens.

He said the affidavits of the candidates submitted to the election commission have provided the people with a chance to know about the income and property of their candidates. If the EC had the courage to exercise its powers properly, the candidatures of many would have been cancelled on charges of hiding information. But it is not happening. However, the ACC can investigate the source of wealth and take action on its own initiative.

Conducting the press briefing, Center for Policy Dialogue’s (CPD) distinguished fellow Mostafizur Rahman said there has been development but there are many problems here in terms of equitable distribution.

The disparity has also surfaced in the bureau of statistics' household survey.

Citizen’s platform’s convener and CPD’s distinguished fellow Debapriya Bhattacharya said what is happening cannot be called an election. It is rather a special electoral activity. Such elections took place in 1988 and 1996 (15 February). It will be difficult to stand the result of this election.

He said social forces’ responsibility increases when traditional politics weakens. That’s why the responsibility of the citizens’ has increased and they cannot remain silent. The problems have to be solved internally. It’s not appropriate to think that someone from across the Atlantic will come and solve our problems.

He said the National Board of Revenue (NBR) might look into the wealth information of the candidates.

Debapriya raised questions as to how an authoritarian country will face the crisis the economy is experiencing and said that’s why the citizens have to act.

Manusher Jonno Foundation’s executive director Shahin Anam said that political will is necessary to implement the suggestions of the civil society but there is a lack of that will here.

Bangladesh Mohila Ainjibi Samity’s president Salma Ali said there must be surveillance and accountability to ensure enforcement of the law. If not, the law will be there but will not be implemented.

In the press conference, recommendations are placed by separate articles on gender-based violence, discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities and strengthening the voice of silenced populations.

B Akhtar, Farhan Hossain and Asif Mohammad presented the articles.

An article said that everyone knows about the violence centering Durga Puja in 2021. No incident of violence took place in the following two years. That proves the government's good will can prevent such incidents. On the other hand, the possibility of ensuring the rights of the people of hill tracks was created through the peace agreement. But the promise has not been fulfilled due to non-implementation of the agreement.

Zakir Hossain, chief executive officer of Nagorik Uddyog and Kazi Faisal Bin Siraj, chief executive officer of Asia Foundation, among others, spoke at the press briefing.