With the December-30 municipal election approaching fast, the incidents of violation of the election code of conduct is on the rise in different election areas for lack of any effective drive by the Election Commission to address the allegations, said experts.
Though the EC initially took actions in a few incidents over code violation after the announcement of election schedule, they said, the Commission has now shifted its responsibility to returning officers.
Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad on Saturday also said the returning officers were instructed to take action over code violation and informed the Commission about the actions they were taking.
“As they (returning officers) are there in the field, they’ll take action immediately and inform us (EC). We asked the returning officers to report us (over violation of polls code) everyday,” he told reporters after a coordination meeting of the EC here with law enforcement agencies and local administration over security measures to be taken for the election.
Asked, former Election Commissioner Sohul Hossain told UNB that the EC cannot avoid its responsibility by only asking the returning officers to take actions over code breaching.
He said both the Commission and returning officers need to act simultaneously against code violation. “Here the overall
responsibility goes to the Election Commission. The Commission, by the time, should have said it would take care of everything.”
“The Election Commission doesn’t seem to be as much active as it was supposed to be in arranging a fair election,” he added.
Former caretaker government adviser M Hafizuddin Khan also said the Commission wants to shirk its responsibility by shifting the duty to returning officers.
Terming the present Commission ‘weak’, he said it is not taking effective steps when it comes to the violation of the election code conduct.
As the Commission did not take effective action and monitoring measures at the initial stage, the violation of election code has been on the rise alarmingly, they said.
In Bogra, Awami League nominated mayoral candidate Rezaul Karim Monu’s posters inscribed with ‘boat’ symbol were pasted on walls in many areas in Bogra Municipality in clear violation of the election code of conduct.
As per the election code of conduct, posters and leaflets can be hung with rope, not be pasted on walls or vehicles.
Contacted, returning officer of Bogra Municipality Hayat-ut Daula Khan said no one came up with any written complaint in this regard. “Action will be taken only when we’ll receive any complaint. There’ll also be mobile courts to deal with that.”
In Pabna, Awami League-nominated mayoral contestant Abdul Wahab reportedly tore many posters of independent candidate (known as AL rebel) Tofazzel Hossain Tofa in Sujanagar Municipality on Friday last.
Tofa alleged that Abdul Wahab tore and burnt his posters around 2pm on Friday, but the Election Commission is not taking step in this regard.
In Brahmanbaria, AL-nominated mayoral candidate of Akhaura Municipality Takjil Khalifa allegedly met ruling Awami League MP RAM Obaidul Muktadir Chowdhury when the MP in a motorcade went to Kharompur area in the municipality to offer fateha at a mazar (shrine).
The candidate’s meeting with the MP apparently came as indirect campaign in his favour.
According to the polls code, ministers and MPs cannot participate in any election campaign and activity.
In Faridpur, independent mayoral contestant of Boalmari Municipality Mozaffar Hossain Miah alleged that ruling party local MP Abdur Rahman, accompanied by leaders and activists, went to one of his election camps on Friday night and asked supporters to decorate the camp with election symbol ‘boat’.
On November 24, the Election Commission announced the election schedule for 234 municipalities out of the country's 323 ones.