12:01 AM, May 16, 2014 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:53 AM, March 08, 2015

Allegations of foul play in REHAB polls

Allegations of foul play in REHAB polls

Suman Saha

The Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB) is set to get a 21-member executive committee for 2014-2016 without any election amid allegations of manipulation.
The election board of REHAB finalised a list of 21 candidates on Wednesday, cancelling the candidatures of 56 other contestants, meaning the biennial polls scheduled for May 31 will go uncontested.
A number of realtors yesterday termed the massive cancellation of nominations as 'a bigger part of the game' played by an influential cabinet member.
The election board scrapped candidatures of some contestants unlawfully, while the others were forced to withdraw their nominations, the realtors alleged.
“The election is a planned game orchestrated by some influential people from the ruling party,” said Shafique Rahman, managing director of Valentine Properties Ltd.
Rahman said the election board cancelled his candidature, although his nomination papers were not faulty.
This newspaper talked to a number of contestants on the alleged manipulation. Four of them concurred in the allegation.  
“The government is trying to place its people in the REHAB council,” said Zeeba Ameena Khan, chairman of Newton One Capita Ltd. Her nomination was cancelled on trivial issues, she said.
“Since I support BNP as a political party, the election board has cancelled my nomination,” she alleged.
The number of voters also declined significantly this year. Of the 1,198 eligible member companies of REHAB, only 540 will be able to vote.
However, Akhtaruzzaman Manju, the chairman of the three-member election board, said they have finalised the list of candidates as per rules.
He also suggested those who lost candidatures should seek arbitration or go to court if they are not happy with the decision of the board.  
Liakat Ali Bhuiyan, vice president of REHAB, said he saw nothing wrong in the procedure that the election board followed to choose the candidates.
Uncontested election is not very unusual among trade bodies, he said.
Disputes over REHAB election, however, are not new. Controversy over a voter list in 2011 had delayed the election by more than a year. Also in 2012, the High Court had issued a show-cause notice over the legality of the election.
The real estate sector now contributes around 13 percent to the country's gross domestic product, employing around one lakh skilled people and another 35 lakh in the backward linkage industries, according to industry people.


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