12:00 AM, December 19, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:11 AM, December 19, 2018

Atmosphere is good: CEC

He sees no obstruction in campaign; BGB deployed

Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda yesterday said his colleague Mahbub Talukdar did not speak the truth about atmosphere ahead of the December 30 national election.

Talking to journalists on Monday, Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukdar said level playing field was still absent and the words -- level playing field -- had become meaningless.

Meanwhile, following days of electoral violence, the authorities deployed Border Guard Bangladesh personnel across the country yesterday.

Expressing disagreement with Mahbub, the CEC in Rangamati yesterday said, “Mahbub Talukdar did not speak the truth. The overall election atmosphere is good.”

He made the comment while talking to reporters after a meeting with officials of district administration, law enforcement agencies, army and election officials at Rangamati Cultural Institute Hall on law and order in the three hill districts -- Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari -- before the polls.

“All the candidates are campaigning. No one is being obstructed. Everybody is enjoying equal opportunities,” claimed the CEC, adding that army would be deployed at each polling station in hilly areas as the situation there was different from other areas of the country. 

According to media reports, at least 13 BNP candidates and 900 supporters were injured in attacks allegedly by ruling party men since December 10, when the electioneering formally began.

As per the reports, Awami League men allegedly attacked campaigns and motorcades of at least 28 BNP and Oikyafront candidates. Police detained around 255 BNP men during the time.

In the afternoon, the CEC held another meeting with field-level administrative and election officers and law enforcers of Chattogram division at a convention centre in the port city.

In the meeting, most of the officials said a congenial and peaceful atmosphere was prevailing in their areas, but the media was presenting different sporadic incidents exaggeratedly.

Journalists were present at the meeting.

“The media has brought many false allegations against me ... but if you [CEC] visit my area, you will find that level playing field cannot get any better,” said Mohammad Mohsin, officer-in-charge of Kotwali Police Station.

Deputy Commissioner of Noakhali Tanmoy Das said tensions between contestants were presented with exaggeration and in most of the cases, the allegations were found to be false.

In response, the CEC said no candidate faced any hindrance during electioneering. So, how could it be said that level playing field was absent, he added.

Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury said, “No officer should do anything with overenthusiasm that may raise question.”

Addressing the function, Election Commission Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed said they had a plan to control the social media during the election. But he did not go into detail on how and when it would be enforced.

BGB DEPLOYMENT

In another development, Election Commissioner Rafiqul Islam said they decided to deploy BGB forces in advance as the media was reporting deterioration of law and order, while some political parties were alleging that election atmosphere in the field level was worsening.

The EC primarily made the decision to deploy BGB members on December 22 and they would be in the field until January 2.

Talking to reporters at the Nirbachan Bhaban in Agargaon, Rafiqul said some political parties were demanding immediate deployment of armed forces, but it was a time-consuming matter. This is why they decided to deploy BGB members early. 

Mohosin Reza, public relations officer of BGB, told The Daily Star that they sent 1,016 platoons of BGB personnel across the country.

An EC joint secretary said BGB personnel would reach their camps and set up their camps, where they do not have camps, by today and start patrolling tomorrow.

BGB sources said each platoon has 20 to 30 members.  

Earlier in the day at another programme, Rafiqul asked field-level EC officials to remain cautious while preparing election results.

“Work cautiously while preparing results so that the commission does not face an embarrassing situation,” he said while speaking at a training programme at the Nirbachan Bhaban.

Our Chattogram staff correspondent and Rangamati correspondent contributed to this report.   


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