Party President Sheikh Hasina instructed AL leaders to approach EC
Top Awami League leader Tofail Ahmed lashed out at the Election Commission (EC) as it served Atiqul Islam, the ruling party’s candidate for the office of Dhaka North mayor, with a notice to explain allegations of a breach of the electoral code of conduct.
"If the BNP leaders could campaign for their party-backed candidates, then why couldn’t Awami League leaders do the same in the upcoming Dhaka city polls," he demanded of the Election Commission.
Ruling party political veteran Tofail Ahmed made the observation on Monday, while participating in a campaign event at Atiqul Islam’s election office.
Tofail said: "We (AL) will go to EC tomorrow (Tuesday) to raise the matter.”
Tofail, also the Awami League’s Chief Co-coordinator for DNCC polls, added: "If Barrister Moudud Ahmed and other top BNP leaders could participate on the campaign trail of their party’s mayoral candidates, why then Awami League leaders, also Members of Parliament (MP), could not carry out campaigns? It cannot be this way.”
"Barrister Moudud is not an MP; he is eligible to attend the electoral meetings and has the rights to deliver speeches asking for votes. Whereas, we are MPs; we were not able to attend the same types of meeting. They talk about level playing field! What kind of level playing field is it?” Tofail Ahmed stressed.
Awami League leaders Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, Mahbub-ul Alam Hanif, Mirza Azom, Asim Kumar Ukil, State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, Abdus Sobhan Golap, and others, were also present at the meeting.
The meeting also involved discussions about campaign strategies and work plans for the DNCC election. Atiqul Islam hosted the event.
On Sunday, Election Commissioner Rafiqul Islam ordered the returning officer to investigate the allegation over the Awami League candidate’s camp. In the notice, the returning officer asked the candidate why the inauguration of the camp should not be deemed a breach of the election’s code of conduct.
No candidate is allowed to take part in the election campaign until he/she has got the election symbol. Ministers, including members of parliament, are not allowed to campaign for any candidate in the local government elections.
Earlier on Sunday, an election camp for mayoral aspirant Atiqul Islam was inaugurated at Uttara. Local MP and Presidium member of the Awami League, Advocate Sahara Khatun inaugurated the campaign office.
According to the electoral code of conduct, persons who enjoy government facilities or hold a government job are not able to participate in the election campaign.
Sheikh Hasina instructed AL leaders to go to the EC
According to Awami League insiders, the party’s President, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has instructed her colleagues in the party to raise their voices with the EC to encourage it to revise the current provisions of the Representation of the People Order (RPO), which make MPs, Ministers and government employees unable to take part in the election campaign.
On Saturday evening Dr. Abdur Razzak, the Agriculture Minister and a Presidium member, raised the matter in the joint meeting of the Awami League central working committee and Advisory committee in Ganabhabon, presided over by Sheikh Hasina.
A top leader of the AL central committee, seeking anonymity, told Dhaka Tribune on Monday that, when Dr. Abdur Razzak brought up the issue in the meeting, party President Sheikh Hasina asked, why are you not discussing this issue before the EC?
Said top leader of the Awami League, who has been working closely with the EC, added: "We are going to submit a letter to the EC tomorrow (Tuesday). In our letter we will urge the EC to create a genuine level playing field."