EC dragging its feet on probe?
The Election Commission has not yet ordered inquiry into the allegations of electoral code violation by around 20 ministers and lawmakers.
Though the commission was all set to issue necessary directives yesterday, it didn't do so, which has surprised even its own officials.
Meanwhile, an Awami League lawmaker in Chapainawabganj along with two other local leaders was suspended from the party by the district committee. They allegedly were working against the AL-backed mayor candidate in Shibganj municipality.
On Wednesday, sources in the EC hinted that it might ask the returning officers concerned yesterday to probe the complaints and take actions accordingly.
The EC secretariat had even prepared a draft list of the ministers and MPs who have been accused in different media reports of flouting the electoral codes.
But the commission yesterday did not decide anything on this.
"We have submitted the list to the commissioners. The commission is likely to take a decision in this regard on Sunday," said a senior official at the EC secretariat.
"If the commissioners decide to issue the [probe] directives to the returning officers on Sunday, then they will have only two days before the polls. How will they be able to implement the directives?" an EC official told The Daily Star.
However, the commission yesterday sent letters to lawmakers Hashibur Rahman Swapon (Sirajganj-6) and Abu Zahir (Habiganj-3), warning them of legal actions if they violate electoral code anymore.
According to news reports, the two had taken part in electoral activities.
The electoral code of conduct bars lawmakers and ministers from participating in any electoral activities or staying in election areas. They, however, can go to the polling areas only to cast their votes.
The EC yesterday decided to ask all the returning officers to check whether any minister or MP was staying in the municipalities where polls are due on December 30.
Besides, the commission yesterday asked returning officers and the deputy commissioners to speed up mobile court activities in the municipalities and take immediate actions if anyone violates the election rules.
AL LAWMAKER SUSPENDED
In Chapainawabganj, the district committee of the ruling party suspended the memberships of Chapainawabganj-1 MP Golam Rabbani, also president of Shibganj upazila AL; Ataur Rahman, general secretary of the unit, and rebel mayoral candidate Karibul Hoque Razin, also general secretary of Shibganj municipality chapter of the party.
District AL President Moinuddin Mondal and General Secretary Abdul Wadud last night signed three separate letters suspending their memberships for "violating discipline of the party".
The letters stated that Razin was contesting the polls violating the party's decision and lawmaker Rabbani and Ataur were campaigning against the AL-nominated candidate.
The suspension orders would be sent to the party central committee for approval.
Moinuddin, Wadud and Rabbani could not be reached for comments.
'EC FAVOURING BNP'
The Awami League has alleged that the EC was not playing an impartial role in conducting the municipal polls.
"The Election Commission is being kind to them [BNP] and unkind to us," said AL Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif.
He was talking to reporters after meeting Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad at the latter's office yesterday.
"Despite being the ruling party, the Awami League is not getting equal treatment from the commission. So, we have come here to request that the CEC to show impartial and equal attitude towards us."
"As the BNP does not have any parliament member, they are getting additional benefits in conducting electoral campaigns," Hanif said, adding that many AL-nominated mayor candidates are being harassed by the returning officers and local administrations.
The CEC, however, denied the allegations and said the commission was discharging its duties without bias.
Main opposition Jatiya Party, meanwhile, has alleged that its mayoral candidates are being harassed and threatened by the ruling party men in some municipalities.
JP presidium members Sayed Abu Hossain and SM Faisal Chisty raised the allegation while talking to reporters after a meeting with the CEC at his office yesterday afternoon.
The party leaders also demanded deployment of additional security forces in "vulnerable" polling stations.
In response, the CEC said adequate security measures would be taken to ensure fair elections.
While campaigning, BNP's mayoral candidates and supporters were attacked allegedly by the AL men in two districts yesterday.
In Jessore municipality, BNP-sponsored Maruful Islam and his supporters came under attack when they were electioneering at Misson Para. Four people were reportedly injured in the incident.
In Laksam municipality of Comilla, former BNP lawmaker Anwarul Azim's car was vandalised at Gazimura while he was going to attend a campaign programme for the BNP-backed mayor candidate.
Against this backdrop, BNP Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi Ahmed at a press briefing at the party's Naya Paltan central office accused the AL of "unleashing terror" and demanded the EC ensure security for BNP men during the polls.
Meanwhile, the party expelled Mofiz Uddin Sarker, a rebel candidate in Bhaluka municipality of Mymensingh.
FIVE PENALISED BY MOBILE COURTS
A mobile court fined five aspirants, including two mayoral candidates, in Gaibandha municipality as they had brought out motorcycle processions yesterday.
Another court in Nagarkanda municipality of Faridpur sent the brother of BNP's mayor candidate Saifur Rahman to jail for two weeks for creating panic in the election area.