Campaign for the upcoming elections to the Dhaka south and north city corporations is getting momentum. It is natural that the candidates will run electoral campaigns and seek votes as well as make pledges. It is also natural that there would be differences among the contestants, but these cannot result into attacks.
According to the media, mayoral candidate from Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), Tabith Awal, was attacked while running his campaign in the city's Gabtali area. His party men and supporters were also injured in the attack. Tabith alleged that Awami League-backed councilor candidate Mujib Sarwar led the attack, but Mujib denied this straight. "It cannot be tolerated if outsiders damage posters and chant indecent slogans," Mujib said. He actually accepted liabilities of the attack by saying this. The Election Commission (EC) has ordered an investigation, but question remains whether Mujib Sarwar's speech would be taken into consideration during the investigation.
However, neither the councilor aspirant nor his supporters can attack someone for damaging posters or chanting vulgar slogans. Legal action is the only remedy in such cases. They could even inform the EC. Instead of resorting to legal action, attacking a mayoral candidate accounts not only to violation of electoral code of conduct but also to criminal offence. We demand the EC act in this regard and seek legal action against the accused.
Attack on BNP mayoral candidate Tabith Awal is not new. There were attempted attacks on him on 12 and 13 January. Awami League nominated DNCC mayoral candidate Atiqul Islam commented that the attack could have stemmed from infighting.
He could at least have kept silent if he could not express sympathy for the victims. Why would a mayoral candidate shoulder the responsibility of a ward councilor candidate's wrongdoing? It's not the duty of the EC alone to ensure an environment congenial to holding fair polls; it's the duty of the participating parties and candidates, too. The election could be fair if the participation of all is ensured. This is also sad that the statements of the complainants and the EC contradicted each other. The commission said it had almost disposed all the allegations regarding violation of electoral code of conduct, but the complainants said they had not got any positive response.
From the very onset, the EC has been dilly-dallying in regards to the violation of electoral code of conduct. Many candidates have been violating the code of conduct, but the EC did not take any step. This has led to an intervention of the High Court. A High Court rule on Wednesday sought explanation on why it should not order to stop printing or exhibiting laminated posters during elections or on other occasions across the country. The election campaign will go on for a week. If the commission can compel the contesting political parties, candidates and supporters to abide by the electoral code of conduct, then the polls will at least not be a farce, if not a hundred cent per cent fair election.
We hope that the rights of the voters will be secured and the history of the 2015 city corporation elections will not be repeated. Let the conscience of the EC along with all the concerned quarters be back.