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UP polls were free, fair

Amid non-interference of admin, rulling party rebel and independent candidates dominate polls

Published : 10 Jan 2022 10:37 PM | Updated : 11 Jan 2022 01:19 PM

The Union Parishad (UP) elections held countrywide in the last five phases were free, fair and unhindered.

Neither the administration nor powerful persons in the ruling party interfered in the polls, resulting in the victory of so many independent, Awami League rebel and small parties’ candidates.

Experts, political analysts and prominent personalities of the country have hailed the staging of the local government polls in such a free and fair manner.

Election results show that ruling Awami League candidates lost the ballot battle in more than 50 percent of the Union Parishads, proving non-interference of administration and ruling party people in the elections, and no manipulation.

Had not the election been held in a free and fair manner, such a huge number of opposition candidates could not be elected, political analysts opined.

Referring to the 70 percent voter turnout, they said it is a good sign of democratic practice.

The election was ruled by the voters not by the administrations and the government, according to them.

The experts and prominent personalities, however, expressed concerns over the polls-related casualties, which, they said, should have been handled with more caution. 

Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique, a former vice chancellor of Dhaka University, told the Bangladesh Post that the UP elections across the country were almost free and fair, excepting some untoward incidents like clashes among the candidates.  

“If we analyse the electoral results, it is seen that the ruling party candidates with ‘Boat’ symbol won around 49 percent seats and other candidates won the remaining 51 percent seats,” he said.   

But, many of the rebel candidates, who won the elections by defeating Awami League-nominated candidates, were also the leaders or activists of the ruling party. Besides, many others were elected as independent candidates or from different other political parties.  

“When more than 51 percent of candidates win the election by defeating the ruling party candidates, it shows that there was no sign of interference or manipulation by the government, administration and the Election Commission,” he said.

He said the entire election field was ruled by the voters, who could cast their votes for whom they wanted. Prof Siddique said another matter was very important that the turnout of voters was more than 70 percent, which was a very good sign for democratic practice and it should be considered very positively.

He, however, termed the murder of a large number of people in polls violence ‘a negative side’ in the election.

“It’s very unfortunate and sorrowful that a number of people lost their lives while many others sustained injuries in clashes among the candidates. In these cases, those who work for the EC at the local level should have been more cautious. The police administration should have also been more sincere,” he said.   

The former DU VC, however, mentioned that the incidents of clashes in society are on the rise as a whole. 

 “It is true that at present none is willing to accept the election results in cases of his or her defeat. Everyone wants to maintain or hold on to their own dominance by hook or by crook,” he added. 

Prof Siddique expressed his hope that both the EC and police administration would keep their eyes on those who are troublemakers. “They should use their intelligence so that no untoward incidents could take place in the future elections.” 

The former DU VC also said that there are many positive roles of the EC and they should be more active to keep the trend. 

A veteran analyst, Maj Gen (retd) Md Abdur Rashid also thinks the UP elections are being more free and fair as such a huge number of candidates could not win the elections by defeating ruling party candidates. 

“If the government, EC and local administration had any interference, candidates against Awami League or ‘Boat’ symbol could not win in such a huge number of seats,” he told the Bangladesh Post. 

He, however, said that victory of more than 50 percent of candidates against the ruling party does not prove that the ruling party lost its popularity as there were a large number of people, who are from AL but were elected as rebel or independent candidates.

If the AL could properly nominate candidates, election results could have been different, he added.

Mentioning that voter turnout was very high compared to that in other elections, he added, “Unless there was transparency, more than 50 percent candidates from the opposition platform could never be elected. Accordingly, it proves that there was no interference from the government, EC, police and local administration.”

He further said although some incidents of clashes took place among the candidates, the voting was dominated by the voters.

“So far as I know, almost all the clashes took place among the member candidates and all the incidents took place outside voting centres. So these clashes could not affect the voting atmosphere,” said Abdur Rashid.

He, however, said the EC, local administration and police should be more sincere so that such kinds of untoward incidents do not take place in the future. 

Professor Dr Mamun-Al-Mahtab (Shwapnil), a medical scientist, author and columnist, opined that if the administration had any interference in the UP elections, there would have been no way for the opposition to win more than 50 percent of the seats. 

Talking to the Bangladesh Post, he said many powerful and influential candidates from the AL’s platform were also defeated and that was possible because of the transparency of the administration.

Dr Mamun-Al-Mahtab said many people however are trying to say that all those elected from other platforms were also the men of Awami League. “But it is not true. Apart from the rebels, there were also candidates from the Jatiya Party, different left-leaning parties and even from the BNP. BNP men took part as the independent candidates as their party formally does not take part in the elections.”

“If the government or administration had any interference in the polls, it was quite impossible for candidates from platforms other than the ruling party to win more than 50 percent of seats. It has been possible as the administration wanted a free and fair election”, he said.

On the other hand, he said, some people want to say that the popularity of Awami League is declining as candidates from the ruling party platform have been defeated in more than 50 percent of seats. 

“But I do not think so as there is a large number of candidates who won the elections as the rebels and they are also the men of Awami League. It was a part of local politics. So it does not mean they left the Awami League”, he said and continued as saying that many things like personality, popularity, influence and identity play very important roles in the local body elections.  

After all, it could be said that if the election was not free and fair, the result could have been different and everyone should admit it, he said.

“If the government had interference, all the ruling party candidates would have won the election”, he said.

Talking about the role of EC, Dr. Mamun-Al-Mahtab said, some people are saying that the EC authorities did not play their role properly. But it should be mentioned that all the untoward incidents took place outside the voting centers, where EC men had nothing to do.

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