UZ polls begin tomorrow

Anaet Shawon

9 March, 2019 12:00 AM printer

The first-phase Upazila Parishad elections are going to be held tomorrow amid a widespread allegation of influence from lawmakers and ministers over the local-government polls.

Voting in 83 upazilas of 12 districts under Rangpur, Mymensingh, Sylhet and Rajshahi divisions will be held in the first phase, the Election Commission said.

A total of 286 candidates are vying for chairman, 487 for vice-chairman and 316 for reserved vice-chairman posts.

Many party-nominated candidates and rebels alleged that influential persons, including lawmakers and ministers, are working for their candidates, breaking the electoral code of conduct.

They fear that ministers and lawmakers may even use local administration for their favourite candidates.

Rezaul Karim Shamim, an Awami League rebel candidate for the Jamalganj Upazila polls in Sunamganj, alleged that some lawmakers have broken rules by influencing the local-government polls.

He said two lawmakers were roaming around Jamalganj constituency on Friday, holding meetings with voters despite an EC directive on leaving the area.

Sources said the EC has ordered nine lawmakers to leave electoral areas, but many of them are still roaming around their constituencies, defying the directive.

On Thursday, the EC asked six MPs to leave Upazila election areas following allegations that they have violated rules by influencing the polls.

The six are Joya Sengupta from Sunamganj-2 seat, MA Matin from Kurigram-3, Md Abu Zahir from Habiganj-3, Md Aslam Hossain Saudagar from Kurigram-1, Mouazzam Hossain Ratan from Sunamganj-1, and Md Motahar Hossian from Lalmonirhat-1 -- all Awami League legislators.    

Earlier, Omar Faruk Chowdhury from Rajshahi-1, Abdul Quddus from Natore-4, and Waresat Hussain Belal from Netrokona-5 were asked to leave election areas on similar charges.

Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda already wrote to Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, urging her to prevent MPs from campaigning for party candidates in the Upazila polls.

In separate letters, the commission asked returning officers and assistant returning officers not to show any leniency to ensure fair polls.

Awami League President Sheikh Hasina also directed her party’s lawmakers to obey the electoral code of conduct.

When contacted, another AL candidate for the Singra upazila polls in Natore, Shafiqul Islam, said a brother-in-law and personal aide to a minister is working in favour of their candidate.

Khairul Huda Chapal, AL chairman candidate for the Sunamganj Sadar upazila polls, made allegations of non-cooperation from party bigwigs.

Besides, M Sekendar Rahman, AL chairman candidate for Bagatipara Upazila polls in Natore, said a party lawmaker is working against him.

“He (MP) seeks votes for his candidate publicly which is a breach of the electoral code of conduct,” Sekendar said, adding that he has also filed a written complaint to the Election Commission.

AL rebel candidate Ziaul Hoque for Islampur Upazila polls in Jamalpur came up with the same allegation against the AL lawmaker from this constituency.

“The MP has prepared a list of leaders and activists working for me to harass them through law enforcers,” he said.

Contacted, Awami League Presidium Member Faruk Khan told the Daily Sun that they have been instructed to obey the electoral rules and regulations.

“If anyone violates the electoral code of conduct, the EC will take action against them,” Faruk said.