Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukdar yesterday said a level playing field for the December 30 polls was still absent and that the situation might improve after the deployment of armed forces.
“I simply don’t think there is any level playing field. The words ‘level playing field’ have become meaningless,” he said, while replying to reporters’ queries at his office.
His remarks contradict a recent comment of Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda that a level playing field was ensured for all candidates. Amid continued violence over the polls, the CEC on Saturday also said, “Candidates are being able to conduct campaigns and they are not facing any obstacles”.
Mahbub told the reporters, “You are journalists … you see everything. Ask your conscience whether the level playing field exists or not. You will get the answer.”
He also said executive magistrates, judicial magistrates and electoral enquiry committees should play a more effective role in ensuring a free, fair and credible election. “I think the situation will change after army deployment.”
Ensuring participatory polls was an initial achievement of the EC, he said, adding, “But it has no connection with a fair election. Whether the polls are acceptable and credible is more important”.
Mahbub also said top law enforcement officials were under the commission’s control. “But they [the top officials] will be able to say how much control they have on the members of their own force.”
He urged all to abide by the electoral code of conduct.
DR KAMAL MEETS CEC
Following a meeting with the CEC, Jatiya Oikyafront leader Dr Kamal Hossain yesterday alleged that the government was trying to keep them away from the coming election. He, however, vowed not to boycott the polls under any circumstances.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Dr Kamal alleged that a party was allowed to hang posters for campaigning while the others were not. “I have never seen such a thing in my 55-year political life,” he said.
A reign of terror has been created and opposition candidates and supporters are facing repression, he said.
“We will not quit the race even if we die …You should go to polling stations even with my dead body,” he said at the Nirbachan Bhaban.
Dr Kamal then urged the Election Commission to take actions within 48 hours over the attacks, arrest and repression on opposition men.
Oikyafront leader ASM Abdur Rob said they also demanded immediate deployment of armed forces.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Oikyafront leader Zafrullah Chowdhury, Nagorik Oikya Convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna, BNP leaders Abdul Moin Khan, Nazrul Islam Khan, and others accompanied Dr Kamal to the meeting.
In a letter to the CEC, the leaders alleged that 14 Oikyafront candidates have recently been detained in political and ghost cases. Law enforcers are harassing and arresting alliance candidates and their supporters without warrants, the letter said.
The letter also said at least 30 Oikyafront candidates came under attack while electioneering across the country. Besides, the motorcade of Dr Kamal was attacked in the capital’s Mirpur on the Martyred Intellectuals Day on December 14.
EC ASKS FOR PROBE REPORT ON KAMAL’s ATTACK
Prior to the CEC-Kamal meet, the commission yesterday sent a letter to Inspector General of Police Javed Patwari seeking a probe report over the attack on Dr Kamal’s motorcade.
In the letter, the IGP was asked to investigate the incident and submit a report in three working days, a joint secretary of the EC told The Daily Star.
Yesterday, the Jatiya Party and the Left Democratic Alliance in separate letters to the CEC sought the commission’s action against those who had attacked their campaigns.
The LDA letter signed by the alliance’s Convener Md Shah Alam alleged that their candidates and activists came under attack in different constituencies, including Khulna-3, Netrakona-4, Barishal-5, Kushtia-3 and Jamalpur-1.
The JP letter signed by its presidium member Ajam Khan alleged that their candidates and activists were attacked in Narsingdi-2, Narayanganj-1 and Gazipur-5 constituencies.
Meanwhile, the CEC yesterday directed the IGP to ensure security of the Oikyafront candidates.
In a letter, he directed the IGP to take legal action against those who break laws, Abdul Halim Khan, deputy secretary of the EC, told The Daily Star.