The upcoming 11th parliamentary election has to meet three important criteria. First, it has to be fair, second it has to be acceptable, and third it has to be credible. With every passing day as we get closer to the election date, we doubt this election will be able to meet these criteria. It is the duty of the election commission and the state machinery to hold a fair election. Before the announcement of the election schedule, people would discuss about the EC, what is was saying and if it was biased.
The returning officers are tasked to review the nomination papers of the candidates chosen by the political parties. There are allegations that the returning officers are treating the two camps differently. They have turned a blind eye to loan defaulters who are backed by the ruling party, but reject the candidature of opposition candidates on the same ground. Such partiality is a big obstacle to a fair election.
The chief election commissioner had asked the returning officers not to reject nomination papers on flimsy grounds. However, there have been cases where candidature was rejected for confusion over the BNP secretary general's signature or when the candidate forgot to sign a paper. When someone rejects a nomination paper just because he had doubts about it, his credibility is questioned. We have to keep in mind that the public is eagerly waiting for the national elections. The public is conernd as to how successful these officers will be in holding a fair election.
There are only three days left for withdrawing or scrutinising the nomination papers. We hope the election commission does not uphold the mistakes of the returning officers and takes steps to prove their impartiality. Candidates who committed minor mistakes should be given a chance to contest the polls. And the same rule must apply to all the loan defaulters, regardless of party affiliation. We hope the election commission acts impartially.
The commission has to take steps that will prove its sincerity in holding a participatory election. We hope there will be no cases of partiality and in the next three days they will make sure all the candidates, regardless of political affiliation, be given equal opportunity.
Or else, it will not be a free and fair election, and the apprehension of the public will gain ground. We hope the legal tangles do not create obstacles to a conclusive election. So, the next three days is very important, for the EC to act.
* This piece appeared in Prothom Alo print version and has been rewritten in English by Quamrul Hassan