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‘Massive vote rigging marked Chittagong city polls’

  • Published at 10:05 pm March 15th, 2021
Chittagong city corporation
File photo of Chittagong City Corporation building Collected

Shujan wants Supreme Judicial Council for EC’s inaction

Elections to the Chittagong City Corporation held recently witnessed a repeat of the same old problems: mind-boggling vote rigging, irregularities and violence, according to the civil society platform Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan). 

Expressing its lack of faith in the Election Commission (EC) for failing to hold the elections fairly, transparently and peacefully, the platform urged the president to take action against the commission through ordering the formation of a Supreme Judicial Council. 

Shujan voiced these allegations and demands at an online press briefing, “Chittagong City Corporation Election: Winners’ Data Analysis and Election Evaluation”, on Monday. 

The premier port city went to elections on January 27, following which 42 eminent citizens expressed their lack of confidence in the commission. They then pleaded with the president to take action against the EC and to order the constitution of a Supreme Judicial Council in this regard.

According to them, the election results were manipulated while voting was mired in violent clashes, which caused some deaths.

They also questioned the delay in announcing the voting result by 10 hours despite electronic voting machines (EVMs) being used in the election. 

Citing media reports and information from other sources, Shujan, too, came up with similar allegations by analysing the results, which saw a mayor, 41 general ward councillors and 14 reserved women councillors winning the electoral race.

Shujan Secretary Badiul Alam Majumdar said it was astonishing that BNP-blessed hopefuls had got no votes in 22 centres and won in only two out of 733 centres.

On the other hand, Awami League-backed candidates bagged 100% votes in 15 centres against the average vote rate of merely 22.5%, he said. 

“Over 80% of votes being cast in more than 50 centers raised eyebrows,” Majumdar said, blaming the EC largely for the debacle. 

“The EVMs we use is of very poor quality, meaning that there is always a scope for digital forgery,” he concluded.

M Hafizuddin Khan, the platform’s president, said that no one had any confidence in the present EC. 

“It is failing to carry out its duties as expected, and instead has been involved in various financial scandals, which have tarnished the image of the commission as a constitutional body,” he said.

Hafizuddin concluded by saying: “We do support the demand for the formation of the Supreme Judicial Council and also action against this commission.”

The platform’s central coordinator, Dilip Kumar Sarkar, presenting the keynote paper, said the EC had not taken any action despite reports of clashes and casualties. 

“The commission was inactive even after BNP-endorsed candidates’ polling agents were either forced out of, or not allowed in, the polling centres, by ruling party-backed aspirants’ supporters,” he said.

“There was rampant vote rigging, which deprived many of the right to exercise their franchise. Even in many cases, the lawmen on duty turned a blind eye to these incidents,” he added.

Speaking at the programme, former election commissioner M Sakhawat Hossain voiced his frustration over the election, saying: “After the way the election was held, I don’t think it can be termed a good one. 

On the delay in announcing the vote count, he said: “By using EMVs it is possible to make election results public very quickly. But why did it take too long to declare the results? 

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