Voter apathy an ominous sign for Bangladesh: Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukdar

The low turnout in the Upazila vote has left Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukdar worried about the future of Bangladesh.

Published : 19 June 2019, 07:05 PM
Updated : 19 June 2019, 07:19 PM

“The most worrying aspect of the Upazila elections this time is the voters’ apathy towards polls. It’s an ominous sign for a democratic country. It’s dragging the nation towards an abyss,” he said on Wednesday.

The election commissioner came up with a written statement at his office in Dhaka a day after voting in the fifth and last phase of the staggered Upazila polls like he had done earlier.

“Bangladesh is on the path towards an uncertain destination under an authoritarian rule. Such a situation is never acceptable,” he said.

“We don’t want to be part of a procession mourning democracy. Democracy must be upheld through proper elections,” Talukdar remarked.

Amidst boycott by most of the political parties, including the ruling Awami League’s archrival the BNP, the average turnout in the Upazila elections is a little over 40 percent. 

BNP leaders have claimed the people have lost confidence in elections due to “use of state machinery for vote rigging by the Awami League”.

Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda had earlier refuted the BNP claims and said Talukdar’s comments were his personal, not the commission’s views.

Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon, however, blames Election Commission and local administration for the “alarming” lack of public interest in ballot.

“We must work to restore the respect for elections. The disease has spread to the Upazila level. The experience of the candidates of my party, and even those of the Awami League, is pathetic,” the key ally of the ruling party told parliament on Wednesday.   

“Complaining to the Election Commission and local administration has brought no result. They are rather working in collusion,” Menon said.

“It has created a lack of confidence in elections and the entire electoral system among the people. They have lost interest to vote. It’s dangerous not for only elections, but also for democracy,” the former minister added.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher