BNP begs to differ, while AL accuses the rival party of plotting to foil the election
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda has claimed that the voting environment is well under the Election Commission’s control, despite attacks and clashes involving supporters of the two major mayoral candidates.
In his view, apart from one or two unexpected incidents, a level-playing field has been ensured ahead of the elections to Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) — slated for February 1.
“The situation is not out of our hands. There have been some minor incidents, which are not to be counted,” he told reporters on Monday, after inspecting a training program for electronic voting machines (EVMs) at a college in the capital’s Tikatuli area.
The CEC also urged the voters to take part in the mock voting scheduled to be held on January 30, so that they can know about the system to cast votes through EVMs — which will be used in all polling centres throughout DNCC and DSCC.
However, the BNP has alleged that only pro-Awami League organizations have been given the responsibility of monitor the situation during the Dhaka city elections.
Senior BNP leader Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury made the allegation while talking to reporters after a meeting with the CEC and other Election Commission officials at the latter’s office in on Monday.
He said: “We know from past experience that pro-Awami League observers are nothing but puppets of the government. The commission has enlisted 22 election organizations to monitor the polls and 18 of them do not even have their own websites and addresses.”
He again reiterated the party’s stance against EVMs, claiming many countries have pulled back from using these machines as they can be manipulated.
On the other hand, Awami League Joint General Secretary Jahangir Kabir Nanak on Monday alleged that the BNP-Jamaat alliance, sensing defeat, were plotting to foil the election.
He levelled the allegation while talking to the media at the commission office in Agargaon, after a ruling party delegation led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Political Affairs Adviser HT Imam held a meeting with the commission officials.
At the time, Nanak also showed a video clip of BNP’s DSCC mayor candidate Ishraque Hossain beating up Awami League supporters.
Imam, who is also the co-chairman of the Awami League’s national election conducting committee, added: “BNP’s allegation against us is absolutely baseless. We have not breached any election code and conduct.”
About the complaints placed by both delegations, after the meetings, CEC Huda said BNP complained that police were harassing their candidates.
“But we [EC] saw no sign of such harassment. They [BNP delegation] said that police didn’t record their case over the Gopibagh incident. But I later talked to the [police] OC concerned who told me that no BNP activist turned up for filing any case,” he said.
When the BNP team told him that Awami League filed a case in this regard, the CEC said any aggrieved person can lodge a case if any criminal offence takes place. “It’s a legal matter.”
Talking about the complaints lodged by the ruling party delegation, he said it blamed BNP for Sunday’s incident.