AL, allies show true colours

OTHER than the ruling Awami League, its poodle Election Commission, parasite pundits and press puppets and, of course, the AL-backed winning candidate, hardly anyone would claim that the city corporation elections in Dhaka and Chittagong on April 28 were free and fair. In its assessment report released on Thursday, the Election Working Group, a network of 32 civil society organisations, concluded that the city polls were not credible as they were marked by serious irregularities, eg ballot stuffing, intimidation, occupation of polling centres and booths, and violence. In a statement on Wednesday, the Transparency International Bangladesh criticised the Election Commission for having ‘not only failed to play its due role but also tainted its own image by showing political bias.’ Also on Wednesday, the United States and the United Kingdom expressed their dismay at the ‘widespread, first-hand and credible reports of vote-rigging, intimidation and violence’ while the United Nations secretary general called for investigation of all the allegations of irregularities during the elections. Besides, most private television channels covered live many incidents of violence, intimidation and voter fraud on the polling day while most newspapers the day after were replete with reports and photographs of what was termed in these columns ‘a farce, a festivity of fraudulence and a celebration of deliberate denial of people’s constitutionally guaranteed right to elect their representatives.’
Yet, the prime minister confronted national and international media with a beaming face and claimed that the elections were free, fair and peaceful, and even accorded a reception of sort to the mayors-elect of Dhaka north and south at her official residence on Wednesday evening. Shamelessly still, in an apparent defence of the deliberate denial of people’s fundamental right to adult franchise by, and disdainful disregard for the democratic political process of, the incumbents, one of the mayors-elect likened the elections with football matches where ‘fouls do take place’; what he conveniently kept mum about is that the entire process was foul, from the start to the end. Again, not unexpectedly, the incumbents and their parasite pundits and press puppets, pounced on the disappointment expressed by the US, UK and UN over the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance’s elections boycott, to unleash yet more vitriol and vituperative at the opposition camp as if the BNP and its allies undermined the electoral process. In view of the widespread and wholesale violence and violation of electoral code of conduct in the run-up to the polling day, which, as pointed out in these columns time and again, were mere dress rehearsals of the farce that the incumbents had scripted, the opposition camp should be credited simply because it had not boycotted the city polls much earlier.
In any case, the farcical city corporation elections have brought the undemocratic and anti-people — if not downright autocratic — attitude and action of the AL government into the fore once again. The incumbents have yet again proved that they are ever willing to trample individual honour and dignity, right and liberty, which form the core of the constitution of the republic, for their partisan and personal gains. In such circumstances, as noted in these columns before, democratically oriented and rights conscious sections of society in particular and people at large are left with one simple choice — organised protests against the incumbents to wrestle back the rights that constitution guarantees them.
Source: New Age


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