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26 January, 2020 00:00 00 AM
Print

EC not providing info on Dhaka city polls: Shujan

STAFF REPORTER, Dhaka

Sushasoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan) has alleged that the Election Commission (EC) is not assisting it by providing necessary information about the Dhaka North and South City Corporation elections, scheduled for February 1. “We submitted a legal notice seeking information about the city polls. However, the commission didn’t co-operate with us,” Shujan secretary Badiul Alam Majumdar said at a press conference at the National Press Club in the capital yesterday.

“The EC must scrutinise information provided by the candidates, but it’s apparently not doing so. If the EC provides people with candidates’ correct information, it becomes easier for them to make the right choice,” said Majumdar. Majumdar pointed out that knowing accurate information about the candidates fighting for elections is the basic right of the people. “But the EC is apparently least bothered about providing people with the candidates’ accurate information,” he added.

Shujan, a civil rights body, has also claimed that the quality of councillors has declined while the number of businessmen and less-educated candidates has increased. “We say this after analysing the affidavits of candidates for the Dhaka North and South City Corporation elections,” the rights body said.

Shujan’s central coordinator Dilip Kumar Sarker highlighted the information of candidates from their affidavits at the press conference. According to Shujan, five of six mayoral candidates in the North (83.33 per cent) are highly educated. Two of them (33.33 per cent) have postgraduate qualifications while three of them (50 per cent) are graduates. However, one candidate (16.67 per cent) does not have formal education. The majority of the 331 candidates (203 candidates or 61.32 per cent), including mayor, councillor and reserved councillor for the Dhaka North, have only Secondary School Certificates (SSC) as their qualifications. Some of them do not even have SSC certificates.

Of the 208 general ward councillor candidates in 54 wards in the Dhaka North, the majority of candidates (156 or 62.90 per cent) have SSC qualifications. Some of them have not even passed the SSC exams. Of them, there are 123 candidates (49.50 per cent) without the SSC qualification.

Twenty-two candidates have undergraduate or post-graduate degrees. Sujon has said the rate of higher education is high among mayoral candidates. However, the literacy rate is low among councillor candidates. This year, compared to the 2015 election, the rate of undereducated candidates has increased in Dhaka North. In the 2015 poll, the rate was 59.40 per cent; this time it is 61.32 per cent. On the other hand, the number of highly educated candidates has gone down. In 2015, it was 27.41 per cent, while this time the percentage of higher educated candidates is 25.27.

Of the total 409 candidates in Dhaka South, the educational qualification is SSC or below SSC (266 candidates or 65.03 per cent). Undergraduate or postgraduate degree holders number 79, or 13.31 per cent. Seven candidates did not mention their academic qualifications. This year the proportion of the least educated candidates is equal to those who contested the 2015 elections. However, the proportion of the highly educated candidates has somewhat decreased.

Of the 331 candidates in Dhaka North, 99 candidates (29.91 per cent) have been sued. Of them, 23 have been charged with murder (Section 302). The number of such candidates has increased compared to the 2015 elections. The percentage of candidates who were sued in 2015 was 19.62. In the Dhaka South, there are cases against 109 out of 409 candidates (26.65 per cent). Of them, there are cases (under Section 302) against 17 persons.

The organisation has urged the EC to hold a “free, neutral and peaceful” election. Majumdar urged the EC, law enforcement and government officials and the political parties to ensure a free and fair election. “We should use electronic voting machines (EVMs) on the basis of consensus,” he said.

Majumdar added, “If a ballot paper is used, it contains a document. But no document will be there if the poll is conducted with EVMs. What would happen if one voter votes for his/her candidate, but the count is for the other candidate? In this case, there’ll be no chance for audit. One has to believe what the Election Commission says.”

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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