Centring the next 12th Jatiya Sangsad (JS), a process of dialogue between the Election Commission (EC) and different political parties in the country began on Sunday.
During the dialogue, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal called on all the political parties to join the upcoming parliamentary election.
He said that if the government does not help properly, the situation after the elections may go bad.
Urging all the political parties to take responsibilities, the CEC also said that the EC cannot stop violence during the polls.
“Stand with rifles if someone stands with a sword,” the CEC said during the dialogue held on Sunday with the Nationalist Democratic Movement (NDM). A 9-member team of the NDM led by its chairman Bobby Hajjaj joined the meeting.
“You will go to the field, and play the due roles. We are referees. We have many powers,” CEC Kazi Habibul Awal told the political parties.
Awal said, “We want to make it clear that the responsibility of the 2014 and 2018 elections should not be put on us. We will take responsibility for the election held under us.”
“We have said many times before that it is necessary for all political parties to participate in the elections, especially the major parties. No party can be forced to participate in elections. However, we will call on all parties to participate. We will continue that effort,” the CEC said on Sunday in his opening remarks.
The CEC called on all parties through the media to actively participate in the upcoming national election.
“If there is no competition in the election, there is no accurate reflection of public opinion. The active participation and competition of the parties in the elections held at the field level can largely control the possible irregularities, rigging, corruption, the influence of money and muscle power," he added.
“The Election Commission wants to conduct elections with the participation, cooperation and support of all. Otherwise, our efforts to hold free and fair elections, no matter how sincere, may end in failure. That is not desirable," he further said.
"Bangladesh is constitutionally a multi-party democratic republic. There is no constitutional bar to a single party winning 300 seats to form a government. But history says that democracy will die soon in that case,” said the CEC.
All controversies regarding the upcoming election need to be resolved, he said.
“Previously, we have held several open dialogues on behalf of the commission. It expresses the opinion of free and fair elections. The Commission has limited capacity and capability. We have admitted that and explained the reasons repeatedly,” he explained.
“After conducting five-seven workshops on electronic voting machines (EVMs), we held meetings with political parties and experts. No one could show any errors. We have tried to highlight the comparative advantages and disadvantages of elections through EVM and ballot,” Awal said.
He said, “Despite all this, the propaganda continues. Confusion about EVMs continues. We are really worried. We hope that the national leaders will engage in intensive discussions with a positive attitude to resolve the contentious issues through compromise and consensus,” he concluded.
Amid uncertainty over the participation of all the political parties in the country, the EC is holding dialogues with the country's 39 registered political parties on the upcoming 12th national election. EC is scheduled to hold talks with four parties each day until 31 July.
The EC held dialogue with NDM from 10:30am to 11:30am, Bangladesh Nationalist Front (BNF) from 12:00pm to 1:00pm, Bangladesh Congress from 2:30pm to 3:30pm and Bangladesh Muslim League (BML) from 4:00pm to 5:00pm on the first day of the dialogue.
Meetings with the ruling Awami League and opposition Jatiya Party have been scheduled for the last day of the dialogue, while the BNP has been invited on 20 July.
It should be mentioned that before the national elections, every commission organizes such dialogues with the political parties, and this commission is also doing the same. Through the dialogues, the Election Commission aims to prepare a roadmap for the next national election.
The current EC had earlier invited these 39 parties to scrutinize electronic voting machines, widely known as EVMs, but 11 parties, including the BNP, rejected the invitation.