VIOLATION OF POLLS CODE EC to act tough on 2 dozen MPs

The Election Commission is likely to ask the returning officers concerned today to take action against around two dozen ministers and lawmakers over allegations of electoral code violation.

The EC decided to take action against the ministers and MPs on the basis of newspaper reports that said they took part in electoral activities flouting the rules, an election commissioner told The Daily Star yesterday seeking anonymity.

“There have been reports in the media that some ministers and lawmakers violated electoral rules by joining polls activities,” the commissioner said.

Officials at the EC secretariat yesterday prepared a draft list of the ministers and MPs.

Wishing anonymity, a deputy secretary at the EC secretariat said last night, “We are scrutinising the list and media reports. A few names could be dropped from the list. Once finalised, we will send it to the commissioners for approval to issue directives.”

As per the electoral code of conduct, ministers and MPs are not allowed to participate in any electoral activities in the upcoming municipality polls.

Candidates or their supporters can face a fine of Tk 50,000 or six-month’s jail or both. The aspirants could even lose candidacy for flouting the electoral code.

Talking to reporters yesterday afternoon, Election Commissioner Shah Nawaz said, “We have asked returning officers to take action against violators of the electoral code, instead of issuing any letter or show cause.”

“Whoever the violators are, be it a common man or a lawmaker, action will be taken against him immediately,” he said at his office at the EC secretariat.

According to media reports, some ministers and MPs breached the electoral rules by taking part in electoral activities in different municipalities in the last three weeks.

It was reported in the media that Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu and Religious Affairs Minister Motior Rahman joined a rally on December 3 at Phulpur where they urged local party men to remain united and work together to clinch victory for Awami League-nominated mayoral aspirant there.

Nahim Razzaq, lawmaker from Shariatpur-3, allegedly applied force on an AL rebel mayoral aspirant in Vedarganj municipality of Shariatpur to withdraw his candidacy on December 13.

Besides, Health Minister Mohammad Nasim, Whip and Sherpur-1 Lawmaker Atiur Rahman, Rajshahi-4 Lawmaker Enamul Haque and Mymensingh-9 Lawmaker Anwarul Abedin Khan also campaigned for AL-nominated candidates in victory day programmes on December 16.

In Chatmohar municipality of Pabna, AL Lawmaker Mokbul Hossain campaigned for AL-nominated mayoral candidate at a meeting on December 14.

As the allegations of election code violation surfaced in the media, the EC in the last two weeks asked the returning officers of around 50 municipalities to investigate the allegations against candidates, their supporters, lawmakers and MPs.

Many of the returning officers informed the EC that they did not find evidence of violation of electoral rules.

On December 6, the EC issued show cause to three lawmakers — Shafiqul Islam Shimul from Natore-2, MA Maleque from Dhaka-20 and Showkat Hasanur Rahman–for violating the rules.

In response, they said sorry and pledged to refrain from violating the electoral rules in future.

Source: The Daily Star

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