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The election commission (EC) could have played a role of a referee here. But it seems the EC has sent the election into exile this time. Political parties, the administration, law enforcing agencies and the EC are the main components of free and fair elections. In the context of Bangladesh, political parties or the candidates will try hard to chase away their opponents. This is just normal. But there would not have been any problem if the remaining three parties had performed their duties strongly and impartially.

It is not possible for the EC alone to organise a fair election if the administration and the law enforcing agencies do not help. But the election commission alone can avoid a bad election, if it wants. For example the EC could take tougher actions for breaching the electoral code of conducts. It can cancel the candidature of the candidate whose side is doing that. It also can cancel the election on the day of voting. The EC even has the authority to cancel the results after voting.

Both the administration and the law enforcing agencies are under the EC. The EC could take tougher action against them if they act in a biased manner. But it is not doing so. That means the EC has failed to send a tough message to anyone. Candidates and the political parties have already understood the election commission cannot do anything whatever crime they commit. Candidates from the ruling party are thinking that both the administration and the law enforcing agencies are in their favour. As a result, they are not paying any heed to any laws or codes. Instead, they are trying to win at any cost.

There are many Union Parishad that do not get Tk 10 million for development work, yet we heard a person spent that amount to secure candidature in one of the union parishads. This indicates that the politicians and businesspersons have got a huge amount of black money. If they could be chairman of a UP spending that money, the position could be used to secure interests in other sectors.

Politics or being an elected people’s representative has turned into a business these days. It is as if being an MP is like getting Aladin's lamp. Chairman posts of pourashava, upazila and union parishad also have become much coveted. Seizing opportunities rather than serving the people have become the main objective. No one wants to lag behind in this zero-sum contest.

* Badiul Alam Majumder is the secretary of civic body Shushasoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan). The article, originally published in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza

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