Mahbub said elections must be free and fair for democracy to prevail
In what is clearly a bombshell, Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukder has said those who have come to power illegally do not care about democracy.
“According to law, the Election Commission is independent, but in reality it is quite different. The election process needs to be reformed,” the election commissioner said on Wednesday.
“To continue with the process of democracy, elections must be free, fair,” he added.
Talukder made his comments in the presence of Chief Election Commissioner KM Hurul Huda, Election Commissioners Md Rafiqul Islam, Kabita Khanam, Brig Gen (retd) Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury and EC Senior Secretary Md Alamgir and others, while speaking at a training session — for returning and assistant returning officers of Dhaka North and Dhaka South city corporations’ elections — at the commission headquarters in Agargaon.
"The current Election Commission has already passed three years of its five-year term. Within this period, the most important task is to host free and fair Dhaka city corporations’ elections. The residents of the city are very concerned about it.
"We were able to successfully hold the Comilla and Rangpur city corporation elections, but in the other city elections, the experience was unpleasant. It would not be fruitful if the unpleasant situation is repeated,” he added.
Addressing the election officials, he said: "I do not want to sound pessimistic before the elections. The skills and expertise that all of you will gain through this training is very necessary for free and fair elections. You will have to ensure that by defeating the evil forces. You will also have to create a level playing field for the candidates by maintaining a zero tolerance approach. Strict actions will be taken against those who will fail to do so."
"We are going to use Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) only for the upcoming elections. It is a litmus test for us. If we are able to pull this off then we can use EVMs for all future elections. However, if something goes wrong the whole process will become questionable. We have to earn the trust of the voters by being extra careful.
"Present observation suggests that the upcoming DNCC and DSCC elections will be participatory and competitive. The voters have nothing to worry about in these elections. I urge them to exercise their voting rights to give a fitting response to those who are autocratic," he added.
Referring to voter turnout during the upazila polls, the commissioner said: "As I have said before, after the national polls, the Dhaka city corporations' elections are very significant for us. The whole world will observe us. I am hopeful that the election officials will overcome any obstacle in order to perform their responsibilities of holding a free and fair election. The commission does not want to be responsible for the murder of democracy.
"Do not admit to any fear or pressure of any kind. Make the elections successful no matter what it takes. I hope the election officials will be able to inject warmth into the hearts of city dwellers in this winter by carrying out their duties accordingly."