EC must prevent irregularities in election
Chief election commissioner KM Nurul Huda on Thursday announced the schedule to the 11th parliamentary election, kicking off preparations for the polls. The polls are scheduled to be held on 23 December.
The last date for submission of nominations papers is 19 November. There are only nine days left for the political parties to select their candidates. Once the nominations are sorted and finalised, the campaign will begin in full swing.
The chief election commissioner (CEC) has said that an environment conducive to the polls has been created and the political parties should now prepare and politically resolve any conflicts they have with each other. It is ironic, though, that while the CEC claims that the circumstances are conducive for the election, leaders and activists of the opposition are being arrested in full swing. Rallies and meetings of the opposition are being foiled. For instance, a transport strike was called in 10 districts just when the opposition had organised a public rally in Rajshahi. This completely destroys conditions for a level playing field for all parties during the election.
The election commission (EC) completely evaded its responsibility regarding political rallies and meetings before announcing the schedule, but it can no longer do so. It must take immediate action if any such rally or gathering is obstructed anywhere. If not, the CEC’s sweet words will turn to ashes and the situation will not be favourable for the elections.
And how justified is it to forcefully introduce the use of EVMs, however much in a limited manner, when the opposition is vehemently against it? Technical glitches aside, how feasible will it be to import the EVMs within one and a half months. The funds have not even been allocated as yet. The EC has announced that the armed forces can be deployed for provide the civil administration assistance under the provision for ‘aid to the civil power’. Caution must also be taken to ensure that the civil administration and law enforcement agencies are not used in personal or certain group interests.
When the CEC has said that there will be equal opportunities for all, he must transform his words into action. He had made similar commitment during the elections to the five city corporations, but there had been violence and forceful takeover of the polling booths during those polls. The opposition polling agents were arrested from their homes, expelled from the voting centres and rendered totally ineffective. The commission could no nothing. It must now give assurance that this will not be repeated in the national elections.
The election commission must keep in mind that this election is not just a test for the political parties and candidates, but a test for the commission itself. After all, the constitution has bestowed the responsibility of 104 million voters upon the commission and they cannot shirk this duty. They must deal with all irregularities and injustice with a firm hand.