The election commission has announced the schedule with the risk of another one-sided election. They are showing excuses of constitutional obligation and their constitutional responsibility. But it does not seem they are keeping their focus at all on the constitutional responsibilities that they have after the announcement of schedule.
Like the past election commissions, the current commission officials also gave an assurance that they will ensure free, fair and participatory elections. For this, they have held meetings with various circles including political parties and prepared action plans. But at the end of the day, it is seen that they are walking on the path of their predecessors- Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad and KM Nurul Huda commissions. Most of the elections held so far under the current commission have been highly controversial. This commission ultimately announced the schedule of national elections without taking any effective initiative to hold participatory elections.
It is the responsibility of the commission to establish its own control over the police and the administration and to keep a watch on the electoral code of conduct after the schedule is announced as per rules. Even after the announcement of the schedule on 15 November, the public administration and police administration set up by the ruling Awami League government are still in place. Although it is not the responsibility of the EC to resolve the political crisis that is going on regarding the election, it cannot avoid the responsibility entrusted with them.
There is no instance that the EC has taken any action to compel the concerned persons to comply with the electoral laws after the announcement of the schedule. The EC was delighted to launch an app for digital submission of nomination papers in a colourful manner. They said, through this, violation of the electoral code of conduct on nominations will be prevented.
But we saw with surprise that the ruling party blocked the road for selling the nomination forms, the aspirants brought out processions to the party office with huge banners. The commission is pretending as if they are not seeing those things. They are not fulfilling these constitutional duties.
Before announcing the election schedule, the government has reshuffled the district and upazila level officials extensively as per its plan. It was expected that after the schedule, the commission would monitor the whole matter and take necessary action. But they are now saying that there will be chaos if the police and the administration are reshuffled.
In that case there is no difference between the situation before and after the announcement of the schedule. Section 120 of the constitution says, ‘upon the request of the election commission the president will provide them the sort of officials that they need to fulfill their responsibilities.'
But in reality, it is seen that the election commission is trying to hold the election with the very same administration that is set by the government. Election commissioner Rasheda Sultana by indicating to BNP said, if they participate in the election, space will be created. Is this an example of creating space?
The activities of EC do not give any indication of levelling the field. While the ruling party and its allies scramble to file nomination papers, the opposition party's office remains locked. In this situation, the election that the EC is preparing will be a wish-fulfillment election. Even if BNP finally agrees to participate in the election, it will be difficult to hold a fair election in this uneven field. The way the EC is showing inaction on all issues, it can only be an election of mere formality. It cannot be said it will reflect the mandate of the people.