Narayanganj may herald a peaceful future for national elections: Observers
Moinul Haque Chowdhury, bdnews24.com
Published: 2016-12-21 16:03:41.0 BdST Updated: 2016-12-21 16:03:41.0 BdST
A peaceful end to the Narayanganj City Corporation election campaign, despite allegations of violence, intimidation and fraud, points to a peaceful and democratic environment, observers say.
They are also hopeful that the current Election Commission, performing its last polling duties before the end of its term, will do all it can to hold a fair election to preserve its image.
Returning workers and officials have also promised to fulfil the expectations of the political parties and ensure a ‘memorable’ election.
Casualties of violence during the recent Union Parishad (UP) elections had surpassed that of all previous elections.
Reports of ballot snatching and people being turned away from polling stations plagued the election. The situation had been much the same during the Upazila Parishad and municipal elections.
Despite fears that history would be repeated in the Narayanganj City Corporation elections, there have been no reports of firing or any other major disturbance so far.
“The candidates from the two largest parties have taken to the field, but there have been no attacks. The campaign has not been particularly negative either. We believe, that at the end of this year, we will finally have a good election.”
Compared to the Upazila council and municipality elections, the outlook for this one looks ‘significantly better’, Alim said.
He added that the EWG has also seen revitalised efforts from the Election Commission and a ‘cooperative stance’ from the government.
This Naryanganj City election is being held for the first time on party lines.
The candidates ended their campaigns officially on Tuesday night, two days before the polls on Thursday.
Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah, who heads monitor group ' Jatiya Nirbachan Parjabekkhan Parishad', said he believes there has been a change in attitude of the parties, candidates and voters in the Narayanganj elections.
“So far the atmosphere of the election suggests a proper election,” he said. “The attitude of the leading parties is positive. We are quite hopeful these elections will turn out better.”
After speaking with Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmed, BNP Standing Committee member Nazrul Islam Khan also told reporters no one had tried to obstruct the election.
“We hope for a good final election before the end of the EC’s term,” he said. “The EC is trying its hardest to ensure it and we will depend on them.”
“Our party will do all it can to help the EC ensure free and fair elections,” he said. “We want the people of Narayanganj to be confident in using their right to vote."
Taking on the challenge
The poll's Returning Officer Md Nuruzzaman Talukdar said there have been no complaints about the election environment since the schedule was announced.
The EC has ensured a ‘level playing field’ for all candidates, he said.
It is a ‘challenge’ to conduct City Corporation elections with party-backed candidates, said Talukder, the top official of the Dec 22 polls.
“This is why we have taken all necessary steps to ensure the election goes well,” Talukdar continued. “We hope it will be a competitive election and that the political parties are satisfied with how it was arranged.”
He also stressed the importance of the candidates ensuring the presence of their polling agents on election day.
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