EC sets a bad precedent
Victory or defeat is not the only essence of an election. There are many more elements which make the election meaningful. It is the election commission entrusted with responsibility and power to make the election meaningful in all respects. The people from all strata of the society also want that. When the expectations of the people go against it, the election turns into a farce.
When prime minister and Awami League president Sheikh Hasina clearly says that her party does not want to forcefully return to power, should the election commission act in a way which seems it is giving favour to a certain political party to bring it to power?
The 11th parliamentary election is going to be held under a party government, yet there is no record in our country’s history that such elections are held in a free and fair manner.
With most of the political parties in the election race, the election commission had an opportunity to prove to the nation that, yes, it is possible to hold a fair election under a party government. It is an opportunity because the election commission was given so much power that none dictates the election commission, rather it can dictate all in order to hold a fair election.
Only eight days are left to hold the election on 30 December. The commission is yet to create a level-playing field for all political parties to hold a credible election. Even an election commissioner said, “I don’t think a level playing field exists.” “You, newsmen ask your conscience whether there is a level playing field,” commissioner Mahbub Talukder told reporters at the election commission secretariat recently.
Countering the statement of his colleague, chief election commissioner KM Nurul Huda at a programme in the Chittagong Hill Tracts recently said Mahbub Talukdar hadn’t spoken correctly. A peaceful environment is prevailing and all political parties are campaigning across the country, he insisted.
In this context, one cannot but raise the question, who is right? Let the election commission itself judge. Whenever a person switches on the television or reads a newspaper, he or she sees candidates being attacked, detained and barred from electioneering. The number of such incidents is hardly negligible that they can be dismissed as isolated ones.
Irrespective of party affiliation, the election commission should have been taken immediate steps to determine who the victims are and who are the attackers. If the election commission would have taken effective measures, the incidents of violence would have been less. Instead of taking stringent action, the chief election commissioner repeatedly claims a level playing field is prevailing and the election will be fair.
There is a saying that the talkative one is all talk but no substance. Is it applicable to the CEC? Is he only talking about the peaceful and fair election, but doing nothing about it?
The CEC himself can answer this well. The people can assume that the election commission seems to be lenient. With some exceptions, in most of the cases the election commission has not taken any action against the offenders. Some of the candidates came under attack, their supporters were detained, while the attackers were spared. The election commission remains silent. Except for the attack of Kamal Hossain’s motorcade in the capital, steps taken in other cases are not visible.
It seems that the election commission fails to realise that the election is not all about victory or defeat. It is more important how the election is going to be held. If even a single voter is unable to cast his or her vote due to the weakness of the election commission, the credibility of the election will be questioned. Will the election commission look the matter closely? Time is flying swiftly.
- Rabiul Islam is a journalist. He can be contacted at email@example.com