‘AL flouting EC directives on Dhaka city polls’

Prothom Alo illustrationProthom Alo illustration

Ruling Awami League is not bothering the directives of the election commission over the Dhaka south and north city corporation elections.Two senior leaders of AL, who are also lawmakers, have been coordinating Dhaka city corporation elections.

The ruling party acknowledges there is a restriction on the members of parliament to seek votes for their candidates in the upcoming Dhaka city polls to be held on 30 January.

However, many AL leaders think there should not be any obstacles to formulating election strategies and in implementing those in favour of their party candidates.

They said the MPs did such activities in local government elections in the past. They are campaigning this time staying behind the scene.

But the election commission said the MPs will not be able to coordinate or continue indoor activities for their mayoral candidates in the city polls.

At a joint meeting of Awami League central executive committee and advisory council on 3 January, two committees were formed for the coordination of Dhaka north and south city corporation elections.

Advisory council member Amir Hossain Amu MP was given the charge of Dhaka south city while advisory council member Tofail Ahmed MP in charge of Dhaka north city.

Two general secretaries of two city corporations were made member secretaries of these coordination committees.

Besides, several central leaders and MPs were included in the committees. AL, however, did not officially announce these two committees. The members of the committees hold meetings almost every day on the strategies of city polls.

Coordination committee members led by Tofail Ahmed held a meeting with chief election commissioner Nurul Huda and other commissioners at the EC secretariat on Saturday.

Later CEC Nurul Huda and Tofail Ahmed talked to newsmen.

The CEC said MPs are not able to coordinate election activities indoors or outdoors.

Tofail, however, said MPs can do everything except seeking votes and campaigning.

Coordination activities of two MPs raised question after the opposite stance of CEC and Awami League.

According to the code of conduct of city corporation election, government beneficiaries and very important persons cannot participate in the election activities. Important persons include prime minister, speaker, minister, chief whip, deputy speaker, parliament deputy leader and MPs.

EC officials said this code of conduct has been included during the tenure of Awami League.

Later, the commission led by Kazi Raqibuddin initiated a move to change this rule, but could not do finally.

Election commissioner Mahbub Talukder said government beneficiaries, who are very important persons, cannot join election related activities and campaigns.

AL insiders said, whatever the election commission says, MPs can do everything except joining election campaigns. Out of coordination committees, ministers, MPs and former bureaucrats are making different election strategies at the party office or their houses. Ministers and MPs even remain active in overseeing the administrative activities.

After the presidium meeting on Sunday, AL general secretary Obaidul Quader said to newsmen, “We do not disagree with the election commission. We have more political activities in the city and we will do that. We will not join the election campaign.”

AL has not formally announced the coordination committees. So it can be assumed that Amir Hossain Amu and Tofail Ahmed have been conducting party activities, said the party insiders.

At a discussion on Bangabandhu’s Homecoming Day at the National Press Club on Sunday, Tofail Ahmed said there is no word called ‘coordination’ in EC’s code of conduct.

MPs can address different functions but they cannot seek votes, he said adding others can seek votes and it will not be violating the code of conduct.

Tofail also said the election commission also agrees to their position.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, AL joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif said Awami League has joined the city elections as a party.

Party leaders and MPs can join party activities on the occasion of election, Hanif said adding nobody is joining procession and rallies to seek votes.

Non-government election observation organisation Brotee executive director Sharmin Murshid said ministers and MPs cannot join election activities. If they do, it would be violating the election code of conduct, she added.

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