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Dhaka Tribune

EC's role in a credible election

A fair and reliable election requires faith in the Election Commission

Update : 26 Dec 2023, 05:33 PM

The Election Commission (EC) is responsible for ensuring a free, fair, and credible election in the country. It exercises authority over the administration, law enforcement agencies, and all other entities involved in the election process during the election. 

When examining India, the EC is a notable illustration of effectively conducting impartial, just, and trustworthy elections. They persist unwaveringly in their commitment to arrange legitimate elections on a quinquennial basis. All political parties maintain their trust in the EC during the election. The widespread adoption of these ideas has been facilitated by the establishment of democratic principles inside the nation since its independence.

No political party expresses anxiety about their intentions and scrutinizes their reliability.

In order to ensure a legitimate election, the political parties, in conjunction with the EC, have a responsibility to maintain the confidence of the individuals employed inside the EC. The unwavering confidence of political parties inspires the individuals within the EC to carry out their duties with impartiality and credibility, aiming to prevent any criticism and guarantee a democratic election in the nation. 

The political parties in India place great importance on achieving national consensus, recognizing its crucial role in strengthening democratic norms inside the country. If we were to recollect the events of the Kargil War in 1999, we would observe that all political adversaries rallied behind the government and provided unwavering support to enable the government to combat Pakistan and uphold the honour and prestige of India, despite each political party having their own agenda and previously criticizing the government on various matters. Nevertheless, a consensus can be achieved in the event of a national catastrophe.

The political culture in Bangladesh diverges from that in India. Our nation's political scene lacks a mindset focused on achieving consensus on political matters. Political parties in Bangladesh have occasionally established a consensus on certain issues. 

We vividly remember the unity of the political parties and the people of East Pakistan in our struggle against the dictatorial West Pakistani army during the war of independence in 1971. We witnessed the convergence of all political factions in the late 1990s when they joined forces to depose the military dictator, General Ershad, to reinstate democratic governance in the nation. Subsequently, there has been a lack of occurrences where there is agreement among political factions in the nation.

The persistent absence of political agreement has been demonstrated by the political parties' lack of confidence in the EC. It must be acknowledged that achieving universal satisfaction among political parties becomes challenging when they fail to embrace a spirit of acceptance. 

This occurred during the process of the formation of the EC. Upon the commencement of the process, the political opposition consistently adopts a contrary stance, arguing that the EC would comprise individuals who are aligned with the government, disregarding that the search committee selected individuals according to professional reputations. 

The political opposition dismissed the formation of the EC due to a lack of substantiated proof. Therefore, any constructive measures implemented by the EC to guarantee a trustworthy election do not have a favourable influence on the opposition's thinking. Of course, the EC's position was controversial since several individuals employed in that capacity harboured malevolent motives earlier. 

There is much debate around the current EC's credibility in guaranteeing a transparent and unbiased electoral process for the upcoming election. Indeed, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the opposing political party, has decided to abstain from participating in the election and has openly stated its determination to resist the election by all means necessary. The BNP's choice to abstain from participation cannot be attributed to the EC, as they earnestly attempted to engage in a discourse with them, albeit without success. It is also true that most political parties are participating in the election. 

The EC has made concerted efforts to ensure the conduct of legitimate elections in the country since its establishment. Since the Comilla City Corporation election, they have demonstrated their trustworthiness. We can still remember the EC's decision to halt the Gaibandha by-election, which was met with disapproval from the government. 

Concerning the national election, the EC has implemented many measures that the public has analyzed and understood. The major parties and independent candidates have unanimously endorsed their plan to implement significant changes in the local government administration. 

Shaukat Mahmud, a former vice-chairman of the BNP who has been expelled and is currently running as an independent candidate in the election, has admired the current EC's role, referring to them as acting like the caretaker government.

The EC has undertaken many steps to guarantee a credible election in the country. Now, the participating political parties and candidates are responsible for endorsing them. The EC's primary obstacle is ensuring a conducive atmosphere fostering voter engagement and unrestricted participation in the electoral process. Currently, the majority of the population in Bangladesh has demonstrated their eagerness to participate in the electoral process with a celebratory spirit. 

If the EC effectively guarantees extensive voter participation and a celebratory election, their actions will be applauded by their compatriots and the global community, who are closely monitoring the nation's 12th legislative election. 

Dr Pranab Kumar Panday is a Professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi. 

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