It is up to the government and the new mayors of Dhaka to earn back the people’s trust
Dhaka North City Corporation and Dhaka South City Corporation yesterday emerged with new mayors, heralding in a new era for the capital city.
And while congratulations are in order for the new mayors, it is unfortunate that this election -- like most other elections which have preceded it -- was also marred by controversy regarding the way it was carried out.
As such, the rather low voter turnout -- less than 30% according to Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda -- is one that surprises absolutely none, with many citizens perhaps having lost faith in the democratic process that prevails in our country.
There are anecdotes and reports of intimidation at polling stations, with incidents of certain party members making their way into the restricted private polling booth itself to threaten or harass voters into voting a certain way.
In addition, the election was marred by the very noticeable absence of any polling agents from the opposition party, to say nothing of the reported sporadic instances of violence near polling stations as clashes erupted between opposing party members.
Even a single such incident stains the democratic values upon which this country was founded and, in effect, reflects poorly on the great strides Bangladesh has made as a nation since its independence.
The people’s faith in the election process and in our democracy must be restored. It is up to the government and the new mayors of Dhaka to earn back the people’s trust in this regard, and the only way to do that would, of course, be to prioritize the residents and their needs, but also to hold a zero tolerance policy for any individual who seeks to mar the elections in the future, regardless of the individual’s party affiliations.
Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of any democracy. When one comes into question, so does the other.