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Dhaka Tribune

Boycotting elections, they emerge victorious

Update : 19 Feb 2014, 09:24 PM

After publicly raising allegations of irregularity in voting and announcing to boycott the polls and the results, two BNP-backed and one Jamaat-backed candidates for three posts in an upazila parishad in Meherpur have emerged victorious in the first phase of the polls concluded yesterday.

In a joint press conference yesterday afternoon at the office of the Meherpur district unit BNP, sadar upazila parishad chairman candidate Mahbubul Alam, vice-chairman contender Maruf Ahmed Bijon and woman vice-chairman contender Romena Ahmed announced boycotting the polls.

They complained that the ruling Awami League, using the state machineries, forcefully drove their agents out of at least 30 polling centres. They also accused the ruling party men of harassing their supporters. The total number of polling centres in the upazila was 70.

However, around 9:30pm, hours after the voting was completed and immediately after the unofficial results started coming out, Bijon told the Dhaka Tribune over phone: “We are accepting the result because people have resisted the ruling party and the administration’s conspiracy. People have won.”

Earlier yesterday, at least 14 other candidates, mostly BNP-backed, in eight upazilas announced pulling out of the polls in the middle of the voting, raising allegations of rigging and accusing the administration of being biased against them.

Some of those candidates also called hartals for today in their respective areas in protest. The eight upazilas were: Lalmohan of Bhola, Shailkupa of Jhenaidhah, Sujanagar of Pabna, Meherpur Sadar, Gouranadi and Bakerganj of Barisal, Kalia of Narail and Kazipur of Pabna.

Of them, hartals will be enforced today in Lalmohan, Shailakupa and Sujanagar upazilas and the whole of Barisal district.

The candidates who announced pulling out include at least one rebel candidate of the ruling Awami Leauge.

In a press conference at the Nayapaltan office of BNP, Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, joint secretary general of the party, said: “It has been proved today that the upazila elections are just a continuation of the January 5 [national] election. Everyone should now get an idea what would have happened to the BNP if it took part in the January 5 poll. The fact that free and fair elections are not possible without a non-partisan government, has been proved yet again today.”

Rizvi accused ruling party men of occupying polling centres in Sujanagar of Pabna, Sonatola of Bogra and Shibloy of Shariatpur.

The ruling Awami League, however, said the first phase of the upazila elections were free and fair and BNP’s allegations about the polls were a “sheer lie.”

“We have made many complaints to the Election Commission. In some places, our activists were thrown out of the polling centres by BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami men,” HT Imam, co-chairman of party’s election steering committee, told journalists at a press briefing at the party president’s Dhanmondi office after the voting had ended.

Imam alleged that BNP was trying to sell the lie and claimed that law enforcers had thrown Awami League supporters out of many polling centres. He, however, expressed satisfaction over the independent role played by the EC.

Our Jhenaidah correspondent reported that voting at the Mathurapur Government Primary School centre in Mirzapur of Sailkupa upazila was postponed around 10am when miscreants snatched ballot papers from the centre.

At the sadar upazila of the district, local Awami League leader Faizuddin, also the chairman of the Dogachhi Union Parishad, was arrested by an executive magistrate for trying to influence voters.

According to our Barisal correspondent, a BNP-backed candidate and a “rebel” Awami League candidate pulled out of the polls in Bakerganj.

In Lalmohan upazila of Bhola, a “rebel” BNP candidate boycotted the polls claiming that his agents had been barred from entering the polling centres.

Meanwhile, BNP’s ally Jamaat-e-Islami, which cannot participate in any election as a political party, yesterday accused the Awami League of occupying polling centres in a number of upazilas using the administration.

In a statement issued yesterday, Jamaat acting secretary general Shafiqur Rahman said Awami League MP’s violated electoral rules by occupying polling centres and attacking the supporters of the candidates that Jamaat had backed.

“The Awami League has proved once against that they do not believe in people’s voting power and democracy,” the statement read.

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