Local body polls losing appeal | 2019-03-21 | daily-sun.com

Local body polls losing appeal

Special Correspondent

20th March, 2019 10:38:42 printer

Elections to local-government bodies seem to lose its appeal among the people as voter turnout in the ongoing upazila parishad polls continues decreasing.

Record shows that voters’ turnout in the first phase of the 5th edition upazila parishad polls was about 43 per cent.

The presence of the voters in the second-phase polls in 116 upazilas was poor on Monday.

As per a provision of the local government law, chairman hopefuls of registered political parties will contest the polls, using party symbols.

Chief Election Commissioner KH Nurul Huda, however, has blamed the BNP-led alliance for their boycott of the local body polls.

He also said it was not the EC’s matter to bring voters to polling booths.

BNP and its allies decided not to participate in any elections under the incumbent Election Commission and the government following a humiliating defeat in the last December 30 national election.

Expressing disappointment over the BNP decision, the CEC said they always want participation of all political parties for competitive elections.

“Though some major parties are not participating in the local-body polls, the elections will be competitive as local leaders are contesting the polls,” he has said recently while inaugurating an election training programme.

Local leaders say that the presence of voters continues to decrease due to fear of violence as the elections are being contested by the ruling party men.

None of the aspirants do not want to leave the election field unchallenged to establish absolute authority in the grass roots, resulting in poor presence of voters, they say.

EC Commissioner Mahbub Talukder said on Monday that voters are not showing interest in the polls due to one-sided elections.

Locals say that as BNP becomes weak, local Awami League leaders do not want to leave the field going by the directive of their high-command.

Voters also feel a sense of insecurity as supporters of the chairman hopefuls may get locked in clashes during voting, they fear.

Local leaders say that chaos develops as influential leaders, including lawmakers and ministers, establish their supremacy in their respective constituencies.

Some lawmakers launched campaign for their chosen candidates by breaching the electoral code.

Amid a fear of violence, a mobile court in Rajshahi on March 9 sentenced a five-day jail term to 11 Awami League leaders, including Durgapur municipal mayor Tofazzol Hossain and Jhaluka union parishad chairman Mojahar Ali for plotting sabotage.

All of them are leaders and activists of different units of local Awami League.

The EC suspended the voting in Purbadhala Upazila of Netrakona due to violence.

Supporters of Awami League-nominated candidate Jahidul Islam Sujon and its rival Masud Alam Talukder were locked in clashes in Purbadhola. The incident left at least 16 people injured.