The result in second phase of pourashava (municipal) election turned out to be same as in the first. Awami League candidates won 16 seats while the BNP candidate won 2 seats among 26 municipal areas in the first phase. In the second phase among 60 pourashavas, AL candidates took holds of 46 seats while BNP got only 4 seats. Independent candidates won remaining 9 seats.
The election commission officials who took up responsibility to ensure people’s voting rights have failed to perform their duties. The prerequisite for holding a participatory election is to ensure a level playing field for the opponents throughout the voting process. But the nation observed one particular party members and activists on the campaign field and paramount presence of them in the polling centres. The opponent leaders and their supporters, even if they moved away from the field, must be forced to do so.
The election commission was responsible for protecting all the participating parties equally and make them follow the rules. Sporadic clashes, violence, violation of rules and arson took place in different places as the EC failed to carry on its duties properly. It was sad that an elected councillor was killed by alleged supporters of his opponent candidate in Sirajganj.
A candidate and the younger brother of another candidate were killed before the election. The EC not only failed to ensure the voting rights of people but also failed to ensure their security. The EC’s inaction and incompetence is unforgivable.
The law enforcement and concerned officials were biased and that led to an uneven election field. The EC took no preventive measures when law enforcers arrested 23 BNP leaders and activists from a party meeting in Joypurhat or when the police conducted drives a the homes of BNP leaders.
We saw the one-sided presence of ruling party leaders and activists in voting centres on Saturday . There were agents for BNP candidates in most of the polling centres. An election commissioner after visiting a number of voting centres in Savar said that the election was not participatory. On the other hand the EC secretary claimed the election was fair apart from some isolated incidents. Who will the people believe?
Despite adversities, the increase in voter turnout at the polling station is very positive. The results in Noakhali’s Nasurhat municipality proved voter turnout would have been higher if the overall electoral environment had been peaceful.
Although AL candidate Abdul Quader Mirza won by a huge margin, no opponents alleged of any irregularities or vote rigging in the municipality. Abdul Quader’s continued 'speaking the truth' may have contributed to his win. He announced, “Neither I will win by cheating nor I will let anyone do so”.
There are three more municipal election phases ahead. If the Election Commission had learned from past mistakes without being complacent and aware of its own responsibilities, the electoral system could have been saved.