City Polls must be free and fair | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 11, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:32 PM, January 11, 2020

City Polls must be free and fair

Campaigning should be peaceful

A total of 13 candidates for the mayor’s post and 745 for those of councillors are contesting in the upcoming city corporation elections presently scheduled for January 30. Symbols have been allocated and the green signal for the commencement of full-fledged campaigning have been given from the election commission.

Whatever little sense of aesthetics is still left in this otherwise visually unattractive city is likely to get even worse with hundreds of thousands of posters put up in every nook and corner of Dhaka. Indiscriminate and unregulated use of mikes sometimes going late into the night will further increase the discomfort of this city’s voters.

All of this we are willing to suffer, and even much more, if we really had the prospect of seeing dramatic changes in this city’s life. Big promises and even bigger plans will no doubt be bandied about as the campaign will get warmer. However, we know that much of them are no better than mere words.

Late lamented mayor Annisul Huq was perhaps the only one who kept his word and made Dhaka a better city within the very short tenure that he had. He would be a good predecessor to emulate.

How so ever enthusiastically the candidates may campaign in the elections, we, as voters, demand a free and fair election. Our past experiences have not only been very disappointing but even bitter resulting in the loss of confidence in the process and lukewarm participation in the voting. We want the EC to take extra measures in ensuring that a level playing field is provided for all parties and candidates, and in that regard, we draw attention to some of the concerns raised by election commissioner Mahbub Talukder, especially regarding participation of ministers, MPs and other government position holders in the campaign process.  

While much of the responsibility of holding a proper elections rests with the EC, the role of the candidates and the respective parties they represent is also enormous. Every candidate must instil a spirit of tolerance among their followers and strictly warn them, with threat of being punished, not to indulge in any sort of violence in conducting their campaigns. We want to see a genuine demonstration of democratic spirit in Dhaka city corporation elections.

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