Cumilla city polls: EC responsible for ensuring congenial atmosphere

Despite a local government body polls scheduled to be held on 15 June, Cumilla city corporation elections have a national significance due to various reasons. One of the reasons is the new election commission is organising such a big election. It has naturally drawn the attention of the people. Secondly, the electoral system has almost collapsed under the previous election commission. It is now to see whether the new election commission can play any role to restore the electoral system by organising a fair election in Cumilla.

The city polls in Cumilla appear at a time when an instable and unusual environment is prevailing the country. Holding a standard election with equal participation of all parties is a normal one. But the alliance led by Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) boycotted Cumilla city polls like other local government body elections. Question remains whether this election could be termed a participatory one.

As many as 229,920 will choose their desired candidates in the election. Although there are five candidates, the major competition will take place between Awami League candidate Arfanul Haque and independent candidate Monirul Haque. Monirul was expelled from BNP for participating in the election flouting party decision. Party affiliation drew more importance than existing problems in the locality. People are deprived of their rights when party affiliation of the candidates gets more importance. That is why we often oppose the idea of holding local body election with party symbols.

Hopefully, the environment of Cumilla city corporation elections was fairly peaceful till this editorial writing. As per the rules, the election campaign has been stopped since midnight yesterday. The election commission has apparently taken stern steps to enforce the code of conduct. CCTV cameras have been installed at the polling booths to maintain a conducive environment. Yet the movement of outsiders is a matter of concern. The EC has been informed about this.

Most of the steps taken by the commission to make the Cumilla City Corporation elections fair have been followed. Councillor candidates as well as three mayoral candidates have been fined for violating the code of conduct. Despite these steps, their failure on one issue is not only painful, but also threatening to disrupt the voting environment.

Local lawmaker AKM Bahauddin did not comply with the EC's order to leave the area following allegations of campaigning for his party's candidate. He remained in the constituency. When the chief election commissioner's attention was drawn to this issue, he expressed helplessness, which is not acceptable in any way. In response, Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan) said that this helplessness of the CEC is not a good sign.

We also believe that when the election commission, a constitutional body, gives a directive, everyone is bound to obey it. The EC does not have the liberty to express the helplessness. If necessary, they can seek help of the administration and the government.

We hope that the commission will do whatever is necessary to maintain a conducive environment for Cumilla City Corporation elections. No irregularity can be tolerated. If the people of Cumilla can choose their preferred representative, it can have a positive impact on the electoral politics at the national level in the future. It is the responsibility of the EC to hold a fair election.