The Election Commission once again failed its "acid test" to hold an election in a free, fair and neutral manner, as the recently-held elections to the Dhaka city corporations were "controlled", a civil society platform for good governance said yesterday.
Speakers at a press conference organised by Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan) made the observation at a press conference, held at Dhaka Reporters Unity to publish an analysis on the polls.
Speaking at the programme, Shujan President M Hafizuddin Khan said elections to the two city corporations once again proved that the present EC was actually not capable of holding a free, fair and credible election.
"They [EC] have failed to hold a free and fair election. The Election Commission had no real intention to hold the election in a free and fair manner, which is ominous for the nation," Hafizuddin, an adviser to a former caretaker government, added.
Although many candidates complained to the EC about various irregularities, it did not look into those, he alleged.
Shujan Secretary Badiul Alam Majumder said it seems that flawed and controlled elections have become the new norm in Bangladeshi politics.
The Dhaka city corporation elections was an acid test for the EC, but it failed, he said, adding, "Voters were insulted in the name of elections."
The EC has failed to eliminate voters' concerns and lack of confidence in electronic voting machines through this election. The apprehensions have rather deepened, he said.
"This concern and lack of confidence have posed serious risks of collapsing our electoral system. Election is the only legitimate and peaceful way of power handover. We might move towards an ominous future if the peaceful path of transition of power is blocked," the Shujan secretary added.
Prof Robaet Ferdous of Dhaka University's mass communication and journalism department, also an executive member of Shujan's national committee, said different institutions, including the EC, parliament, Anti-Corruption Commission and Information Commission have failed to perform their duties properly.
THE REIGN OF BUSINESSPEOPLE
The number of businesspeople who emerged victorious in the February 1 elections is higher than that of previous local body polls, Shujan said in its analysis.
The trend of businesspeople's involvement in election-centric politics is increasing, which reflects the influence of money in elections, it added.
This trend might lead to public representatives becoming more keen on business rather than serving the people, said a written statement of the body.
Some 62 out of 73 victorious candidates in mayor and councillor posts in Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) polls -- or 86.3 percent -- are businesspeople.
In DNCC, 72.81 percent candidates were businesspeople.
Among the successful candidates in the 2015 DNCC polls, 68.75 percent were businesspeople, according to Shujan statistics.
In the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) elections, 76 out of 101 -- or 75.25 percent -- winning candidates in mayor and councillor posts are businesspeople, they added.
Among candidates of DSCC polls, 73.59 percent were businesspeople.
Of the victorious candidates in the 2015 DSCC polls, 80.26 percent were from the profession.
"Although the number of businesspeople who won DSCC elections has decreased compared to 2015 , three-fourths of the elected representatives are still businesspeople," said Shujan.