Historical

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Rahgir Almahi Ershad, elected from Rangpur 3, took oath today as a member of the Parliament. 

Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury administered the oath taking ceremony at her office at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban in Dhaka.

HM Ershad’s son Rahgir won the by-polls in Rangpur-3 constituency yesterday, according to unofficial results.

He bagged 58,878 votes while his nearest rival BNP’s Rita Rahman secured 16,947 votes, the results showed last night.

Independent candidate Shahriar Asif, Ershad’s nephew who was expelled from the JP for breaching party discipline, bagged 14,984 votes while Kazi Mohammad Shahidullah of Gono Front got 1,662.

As many as 924 people voted for Touhidur Rahman Mondal of Khelafat Majlish and 611 for Shafiul Alam of National People’s Party, the results showed.

Earlier in the day, the voting started at 9:00am and continued till 4:00pm.

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Awami League (AL) General Secretary Obaidul Quader today said if Jatiya Party wants to contest the Rangpur-3 by-polls from the Awami League-led alliance, his party will consider and discuss the matter.

The minister said JP contested for the constituency as an alliance to the AL in the last election, but now JP is the opposition party in the parliament.

If the party decides to run the by-polls independently, then it is their matter but if they want to contest from the alliance, AL will consider it, Obaidul Quader told journalists at his Secretariat office this morning.

But no discussion has been held in this regard yet, Quader, also the Road, Transport and Bridges minister, said.

The minister addressed the journalists after holding a meeting between Bangladesh Bridge Authority and Korea Express Corporation at the Setu Bhaban.

The Rangpur-3 constituency fell vacant following the death of the party's chairman HM Ershad.

The two feuding factions of Jatiya Party reportedly patched things up this week and decided that party Chairman GM Quader would remain in his post and Raushan Ershad would become the Leader of the Opposition in parliament.

They also agreed to nominate Saad Ershad, son of HM Ershad, in the by-election to Rangpur-3 constituency, which fell vacant after Ershad passed away on July 14, party insiders said.

 

 

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Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan) today demanded the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) to probe the irregularities that took place in the 11th national election.

Lots of accusations of irregularities have surfaced centring the national elections, Dilip Kumar Sarker, central coordinator of Shujan, said at a press conference.

Shujan organised the conference at Dhaka Reporters' Unity to brief media about the outcome of its findings on election results.

Dilip Kumar said his organisation found different irregularities like nomination trade, obstructing election campaigns, beating away polling agents, ballot stuffing the night before the election, barring voters from voting, and forcing voters to vote for a particular party.

"After evaluating the polls results, we found out that 100% votes were cast in 213 polling centres of 103 constituencies, which is unbelievable," he said.

It also founds 100% votes were cast to a single symbol in 587 polling centres of 75 constituencies.

“We urge the president to form a Supreme Judicial Council in order to probe the irregularities and take actions against those involved, specially the election commission," Shujan Secretary Badiul Alam Majumdar said.

"In the whole history of the elections across the world, I have never heard of 100% votes being cast at an election," noted Journalist Syed Abul Maksud said.

Shujan President Hafiz Uddin also demanded a Supreme Judicial Council in this regard.

In the election held on December 30, 2018, the Awami League-led grand alliance secured 289 seats, while the Oikyafront got only eight seats.

 

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BNP nominated candidate Golam Mohammad Siraj has secured victory in the Bogura-6 by-election by a big margin of votes.

Siraj bagged 89,782 votes while his nearest contestant, Awami League nominated candidate T Zaman Niketa, got 32,297 votes in the by-election, Zakir Hossain, Bogura Sadar upazila election officer, announced the result.

Around 34.55 per cent votes were cast in the by-election. There are total 387,458 voters in the constituency, our Bogura correspondent reports quoting the election official.

The by-election to the parliamentary constituency began around 9:00am and continued till 5:00pm without any break amid very low turnout of voters at many polling stations.

Photo: STAR/ Mostafa Shabuj

However, no irregularities were reported from any polling centre as the Election Commission (EC) took all necessary preparations to hold the by-polls smoothly using Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

The constituency was declared vacant as BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, who was elected from the parliamentary seat in the December 30 general election, did not take oath as MP within the 90 days from the date of the first meeting of the Jatiya Sangsad.

Nurul Islam Omar of Jatiya Party, Mansur Rahman of Bangladesh Congress, Mufti Rafiqul Islam of Muslim League and independent candidate Md Minhaz Mondal also contested in the by-polls.

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The High Court (HC) today rejected a writ petition that challenged the legality of oath taking by lawmakers elected in the December 30 general election.

The court came up with the order saying that there is nothing illegal in taking oath taken by the lawmakers as they took charges of their offices on January 30.

The HC bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Razik-Al-Jalil passed the order.

Earlier on February 6, the court concluded hearing on the petition and fixed today (February 18) for passing an order.

On that day, AM Mahbub Uddin Khokon argued that oath taking by the lawmakers on January 3 was unconstitutional as the tenure of the 10th parliament expired on January 28.

“Therefore, there were two parliaments from January 3 to January 28 -- which is unconstitutional,” he told the court on February 6.

Attorney General MahbubeyAlamhad argued that as new lawmakers took charge on January 30, oath taking was not illegal.

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Dr Syeda Zakia Nur, who was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) uncontested from Kishoreganj-1 constituency, took oath at the Jatiya Sangsad (JS) Bhaban in Dhaka today.

Jatiya Sangsad (JS) Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury administered the oath of office to the MP elected on Awami League (AL) ticket, said an official release.

JS Senior Secretary Dr Zafar Ahmed Khan conducted the oath taking ceremony while Chief Whip Noor-E-Alam Chowdhury and Whip Iqbalur Rahim were present at the function.

Zakia Nur, younger sister of former AL general secretary and public administration minister late Syed Ashraful Islam, was elected Member of Parliament from Kishoreganj-1 constituency in a re-election as the constituency fell vacant following the death of Syed Ashraf.

Ashraf, son of acting president of Bangladesh during the Liberation War and one of the four national leaders Syed Nazrul Islam, was elected as MP from the constituency for the fifth consecutive term in December 30 polls.

But he died at a Bangkok hospital on January 3, on the day when other elected lawmakers of the 11th parliament took oath.

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There is neither any conflict nor any tension in the Awami League-led Grand Alliance, said AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader yesterday.

Quader, also the road transport and bridges minister, came up with the comment while speaking at a preparatory meeting on Saturday's grand rally of the Awami League to celebrate its victory in the 11th general election.

"The grand alliance is a unity forged to participate in the election while the 14-party is a political combine which will prevail and there's no chance of collapse," said the minister.

There is no infighting, tension, and disturbance in the alliance, said the senior AL leader, adding, "If there's any misunderstandings, we'll solve it through discussions.

"If the political alliance plays a role of the opposition in parliament and holds constructive discussions, it'll be better for the government to correct its mistakes, if any."

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The High Court yesterday rejected a writ petition that had challenged the legality of oath taking of the lawmakers elected in the December 30 polls.

A HC bench of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Md Ashraful Kamal passed the order considering that petition was not filed properly.

After the order, lawmakers elected in the 11th parliamentary polls have no bar to perform their duties, said Attorney General Mahbubey Alam.

Also read: HC order on petition against oath-taking of MPs today

On January 14, advocate Taherul Islam Tawhid filed the petition praying for a rule on the Election Commission and the government to explain why the oath taking should not be declared illegal.

The lawyer also sought necessary HC orders on the authorities concerned to prevent the new lawmakers from discharging their functions.

Meanwhile, petitioner's lawyer barrister AM Mahbubey Alam told The Daily Star that they would file a fresh writ petition with the HC challenging the same issue.

The tenure of the 10th parliament will expire on January 28 and new lawmakers will take charge on January 30.

 

 

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Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda yesterday rejected the Transparency International Bangladesh report on irregularities in the 11th parliamentary polls, terming the report “baseless”.

Besides the CEC, two ministers criticised the report. 

Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader, also road transport and bridges minister, called the TIB report a “fairy tale”.

Information Minister Hasan Mahmud said the TIB report was a “deliberate falsehood” and it echoed the speech of opposition alliance -- Jatiya Oikyafront -- regarding the December 30 polls.    

On Tuesday, the TIB in its study titled “Review of Election Process of 11th National Election” said irregularities took place in 47 out of the 50 constituencies it surveyed. 

It termed the polls “partially participatory, non-competitive, questionable and faulty" and demanded a judicial inquiry into the reported irregularities.

The anti-graft watchdog said ballot papers stamping took place the night before the election in 33 constituencies, stamping ballots openly after occupying booths in 30 seats on the election day and non-availability of ballot papers in 22 constituencies.

The TIB study found ballot boxes filled-up before polling even began in 20 constituencies; voters forced to cast ballots for a particular symbol in 26 constituencies, casting of fake votes in 41 seats, silence of the administration and law enforcing agencies in 42 seats and obstructing and driving out polling agents in 29 seats.

In the 50 constituencies, not all the polling centres necessarily saw the anomalies. Irregularities happened in one or more centres of a seat, the watchdog said.

'IT IS BASELESS'

“We are completely rejecting the TIB report on the election. It is baseless,” the CEC told reporters after an orientation programme of the newly appointed Election Commission officials at the Nirbachon Bhaban in the capital yesterday.

The CEC said there was no similarity of the TIB report with those published in newspapers and accounts of other observers on the voting day.

Information provided by the election enquiry committees, executive magistrates and EC officials and others on the polls also do not match the TIB findings, he said.

The CEC also slammed the TIB's allegation that the EC failed to act neutrally and the role of some polling officers and law enforcement agencies were biased, saying, “The speech is disrespectful ... They should not speak like that.”

He said the commission would not take any step against TIB over its report.

'FAIRY TALE'

“The TIB has come up with the fairy tale long after the election,” Quader told journalists after an extended meeting of Dhaka South City unit Jubo League at AL's central office on the Bangabandhu Avenue.

“The TIB has cooked up so many imaginary and unbelievable stories. The countrymen will give a reply to the report.”

He termed the December 30 election transparent and excellent.

“Did any agent of BNP and Oikyafront candidates make any objection about the transparency of the election on the voting day?” Quader questioned.   

HASAN BINS REPORT

In another development, Information Minister Hasan Mahmud said, “There is no difference between the TIB    report and the speech of the Oikyafront. In fact, the TIB just published a report in favour of BNP and Jamaat-Shibir.”

He was addressing a press conference in his Dewanji Pukur Par lane house in the port city yesterday, reports a staff correspondent in Chattogram.

The minister added that though the TIB usually claimed that its reports were based on research findings. But in fact, no proper research was actually done. 

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The Election Commission today trashed the report of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) on the 11th parliamentary election, terming it as a “predefined and imaginary statement”.

“TIB’s report is not an outcome of research work, rather it is a report only. It is totally a predefined and imaginary report,” Election Commissioner Rafiqul Islam came up with the remarks while talking to reporters at the commission office in Dhaka.

TIB in a report today said that the anti-graft watchdog found wide range of election irregularities in 47 parliamentary constituencies out of 50 during the December 30 national election.

Conducting survey in 50 constituencies out of total 299, in the December 30 national election, TIB said, “Ballots were stuffed on the night before the elections in at least one or more centres in 33 constituencies and polling booths were occupied and ballots were stuffed in 30 seats.”   

Rejecting the report, Rafiqul Islam said, “TIB did not appropriately follow the methods required for preparing a survey report and thus it is nothing but an imaginary creating.”

Apart from this, it is said in the report that this is their primary report that means it is “predefined”, the election commissioner said.

Claiming that information must be collected from assistant presiding officers or from written documents if anyone wants to prepare a survey to report on the election, Rafiqul Islam said, “TIB did not do these.”

“TIB did not mention in the report from which sources it gained the information about the ballot stuffing on the night before the polls. So that, it was not a survey indeed,” the commissioner added.

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Electoral irregularities like stamping ballot papers the night before the polls and ballot stuffing by capturing booths on the election day took place in 47 out of 50 constituencies surveyed, says a TIB study on the 11th parliamentary polls.

Other irregularities include silence of law enforcers and administrative officials, casting fake votes, barring voters from going to polling stations, forcing voters to cast vote for a specific symbol and barring polling agents from going to centres, the study found.

Transparency International Bangladesh unveiled the study titled "Review of Election Process of 11th National Election" through a press conference at its office in the capital yesterday.

It termed the election "partially participatory, non-competitive, questionable and faulty" and demanded judicial inquiry into the reported irregularities during the election.

The study, based on interviews of election stakeholders including law enforcement agencies, candidates and voters, was conducted between November 10 last year and January 10 this year in randomly selected 50 out of 299 constituencies that went to polls on December 30.

Polls to Gaibandha-3 seat were postponed after the death of a candidate.

Of the 50 seats, the ruling Awami League candidates won 40, Jatiya Party six, Gono Forum two while BNP and JP-Manju won one each.

Speaking at the press conference, Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of TIB, said, "Faulty election will hamper democracy."

He added, "The Election Commission failed to act neutrally and the role of a section of polling officers and law enforcement agencies were biased."

The TIB boss also said not all the candidates were allowed to conduct electioneering freely while voters faced obstacles to cast their votes. So this election was partially participatory, he added.

Contacted, Election Commissioner Rafiqul Islam trashed the TIB study and called it “pre-determined” and “imaginary”.

TIB did not provide the names of 50 constituencies.

The report says the “50 seats covered under the survey are in 45 districts of nine divisions. Of those, the highest -- 11 seats -- are in Dhaka division, followed by Chattogram with nine. The lowest -- four seats each -- are in Sylhet and Barishal.”

MAJOR IRREGULARITIES

Presenting the report, TIB Senior Programme Manager (research and policy) Shahjada M Akram said irregularities were witnessed in at least one or more voting centres of 47 out of 50 constituencies.

Ballot papers stamping took place the night before the elections in 33 constituencies, stamping ballots openly after occupying booths in 30 seats on the election day and non-availability of ballot papers in 22 constituencies.

The TIB study found ballot boxes filled-up prior to the beginning of polling in 20 constituencies; voters forced to cast vote for a particular symbol in 26 constituencies, people barred from going to centres in 26 seats, voters driven away from polling centres in 21 seats and beating up supporters of opponents in 11 constituencies.

The survey found casting of fake votes in 41 seats, silence of the administration and law enforcing agencies in 42 seats and obstructing and driving out polling agents in 29 seats. 

In each of the 50 constituencies, not all the polling centres necessarily saw the anomalies. Irregularities took place in one or more centres of a seat, the watchdog said.   

When asked who were behind or carried out the irregularities, Iftekharuzzaman and Shahjada told the press that they “cannot” say this.

EXPENSES 3 TIMES HIGHER

Since the election schedule announcement till the voting, the TIB study found, election-related expenditure of a candidate was Tk 77,65,085 in those seats, three times the amount fixed by the Election Commission.

A candidate can spend maximum Tk 25 lakh in electioneering, according to the EC.

In terms of the expenditure, the ruling AL candidates were in the top position as they spent five times the ceiling while the independent candidates were in the lowest.

The study found 41 AL candidates spent Tk 1.34 crore each on an average, followed by its alliance partner Jatiya Party as eight of its candidates spent Tk 63 lakh each.

A total of 107 candidates of several parties came under the survey.

Five Gono Forum candidates came third in the list with Tk 41 lakh each while its partner BNP came fourth in the tally as 41 of its candidates spent Tk 28 lakh each.

On an average, seven candidates of other parties spent Tk 1.24 crore each while three independent candidates spent Tk 16 lakh each.

Iftekharuzzaman said the picture of election expenditure of candidates remains same as in 2008 election. A candidate on an average spent three times the limit during electioneering for that polls.

VIOLATIONS BY AL CANDIDATES

The study found that AL candidates violated election code of conduct more than others.

It said 95 percent AL candidates violated election code of conduct by bringing out processions or holding “showdowns” using vehicles, while 88 percent JP candidates and 31 percent BNP candidates did the same offence.

The TIB said 80 percent AL candidates, 75 percent JP and 44 percent BNP candidates pasted posters violating the electoral code. Seventy eight percent AL candidates created obstacle to street rallies, indoor meetings and other electioneering of other candidates violating the electoral code, while 50 percent JP and 2.8 BNP candidates did the offence.

EC UNABLE TO ACT PROPERLY

TIB in its report alleged that EC in maximum cases was unable to play a proper role during the election process. It did not take effective steps for ensuring all parties' participation in the election.

No role was played to create equal scope for electioneering for all parties. The EC also failed to create an example by taking steps against electoral code violation by ruling party men.

“While in one hand the EC has failed to create a level playing field for all parties and candidates, on the other hand difference of opinions of commissioners regarding it became public,” the report said.

The EC also made “transparency of election” questionable by controlling the flow of information, slowing down internet speed and putting restriction on the election observers, it said.

The TIB recommended the authorities concerned appoint honest, skilled, neutral and courageous persons as election commissioners and enact law fixing process and qualification for the appointment.

It also said the Election Commission, administration, law enforcing agencies and all others will have to be natural and free from influence of any party for the sake of free, fair and acceptable election under a partisan government.      

METHODOLOGY

The study was conducted to review how far the election was fair, neutral and legal and how the EC, political parties and candidates followed electoral laws and code of conduct. It also analysed the claims of the candidates about spending and reviewed the role of stakeholders of election.

The study followed a qualitative method including content analysis, interviews of information providers and observations.  Information providers are candidates, party activists, law enforcers, returning officers and other election officials, including Electoral Tribunal officials, local journalists and voters.

The study also used secondary sources of information like laws and regulation, published and unpublished research reports as well as newspaper reports. 

Here is the full report of TIB

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Ruling Awami League today started selling nomination forms to aspirants for its 43 reserved seats for women in the 11th parliament.

The aspirants were seen thronged the AL president's Dhanmondi political office in Dhaka since morning to collect the nomination forms.

AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader formally inaugurated the selling of the nomination forms, reports UNB.

The party has fixed Tk 30,000 as the price for each nomination paper.

Yesterday, the Election Commission said that it is likely to announce the polls schedule on February 17 for 50 parliamentary seats exclusively reserved for women.

The reserved seats' distribution will reflect the seat share in the directly elected 300 constituencies. According to the proportional representation in the parliament, Awami League will get women MPs from 43 reserved seats, Jatiya Party from 4 seats, BNP from one, and others will fill out the last two.

Out of the 300 parliamentary constituencies across the country, Awami League won in 259 constituencies, while Jatiya Party in 20 seats, BNP in six seats, Workers' Party in three constituencies, Gano Forum, Jasod and Bikalpadhara each in two seats, Tarikat Federation and JP (Manju) each in one seat in the recently held 11th general election.

Besides, independent candidates were elected in three constituencies in the polls held on December 30 last.

One remaining constituency Gaibanda-3 will go to polls on January 27, after the election there was postponed earlier following the death of a candidate.

The Election Commission has a legal obligation to arrange the polls to the 50 reserved seats within 90 days after the gazette of general election result is published.

The directly-elected members of parliament are the voters of the election.

If the number of nominated candidates by a political party is equal to its reserved seats, the contenders will be declared elected unopposed immediate after the last date for withdrawal of candidacy.

Meanwhile, the Jatiya Party will start selling nomination paper from tomorrow for its four reserved seats, sources at the party told The Daily Star this afternoon.