• Sunday, Feb 23, 2020
  • Last Update : 01:18 pm

AL, BNP trade blame over city polls

  • Published at 08:20 pm February 1st, 2020
Photo shows people waiting in queues to vote in the Dhaka city corporation elections on Saturday, February 1, 2020 Mahmud Hossan Opu/Dhaka Tribune

A BNP delegation led by National Standing Committee member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury submitted the 10-point complaint, signed by Mirza Fakhrul

The Awami League and BNP traded barbs over the elections to Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) that were held on Saturday.

While the ruling party claimed the elections were held in a free and fair manner, the BNP alleged that voting was marred by a flawed use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and irregularities in the presence of election and law enforcement officials while its polling agents were forced out of voting centres.

Soon after voting ended at 4pm, Chief Coordinator of Awami League’s DSCC election coordination committee Amir Hossain Amu said there were three reasons behind the low voter turnout in the elections.

The rescheduling of the election day, crisis of vehicles and a long vacation before voting day were what led to the low turnout, he told a press conference at the party’s Bangabandhu Avenue central office.

Awami League Advisory Committee Member and also Chief Coordinator of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) election Amir Hossain speaks at a press briefing at Awami League's central office at 23 Bangabandhu Avenue in Dhaka on Saturday, Februrary 1, 2020 | Dhaka Tribune Amu, a member of the Awami League Advisory Council, stated that around 30% of votes were cast altogether.

He, however, thanked the Election Commission and people of Dhaka for the successful elections.

Earlier in the day, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir had called the elections a “farce,” saying Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had herself violated the electoral code of conduct.

“After casting her vote, she [Hasina] urged people to vote for boat [Awami League's electoral symbol], which is tantamount to direct interference in the election. It's a gross violation of the code,” he said.

Alleging gross vote rigging, Fakhrul also alleged that the Awami League had brought in goons from around the country.

"Our senior leaders have monitored the elections. We have been saying that fair polls were not possible by using EVMs. The chief election commissioner himself was not able to cast his vote with the EVM,” he said.

Polling agents of BNP candidates were driven out of centres by ruling party goons, Fakhrul claimed. “Those who stayed even after that were threatened and assaulted while the presiding officers as well as law enforcement officials did nothing.”

He also alleged: “Awami League goons were inside the polling booths to ensure that votes in favour of sheaf of paddy [BNP's electoral symbol] were not cast.”

However, Awami League Joint General Secretary Mahbub-ul-Alam Hanif thanked the BNP for staying in the city polls until the end, but said the party came up with their “ridiculous” allegations after sensing a sure defeat.

“It seems like BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir wrote his statement before the election was even held. It has unleashed shameless false statements over the election as per their old habit,” he said.

“If they fail to provide any evidence to support their allegations, the BNP will have to apologise to the nation for shamelessly lying,” he added.

BNP submits written complaint to EC

Meanwhile, the major opposition BNP in the afternoon submitted a written complaint to the Election Commission over irregularities centring around the city polls.

A BNP delegation led by National Standing Committee member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury submitted the 10-point complaint, signed by Mirza Fakhrul.

Afterwards, Khasru told reporters that the BNP’s sheaf of paddy symbol was not seen in many polling centres, while their polling agents were driven out from many centres.

He also raised concerns over the efficacy of using EVMs.

Citing allegations from voters, he alleged the elections were marred by irregularities, including incidents where many votes were cast by outsiders while many people failed to cast their votes as the EVMs failed to match their fingerprints.

Many of the irregularities also took place in the presence of law enforcement officials, who did not take any action, he added.