With the Election Commission not being able to give the number of press passes it has issued for today's election, there are allegations that many ruling party men managed the cards.
On the other hand, journalists of some mainstream media houses in Cumilla and Lalmonirhat alleged that they did not receive their press passes. Cumilla correspondents of television channels Maasranga and Ntv did not get those either, they claimed.
EC secretariat and returning officers in every districts issue cards to media personnel before election and, by using the cards, journalists can enter the polling centers to collect information.
While visiting the EC secretariat around 4:00pm yesterday, a correspondent of The Daily Star found many people were still waiting there to get their “press pass” and “vehicle stickers”.
Regarding the number of cards the EC issued yesterday, SM Asaduzzaman, director (public relations) of the commission said, “It is not possible to give the number now. It could be told tomorrow [today].”
Wishing anonymity, a number of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) activists of Dhaka University told this newspaper that they had gotten blank press passes for the polls day.
“I have received around 200 press passes from a senior leader [of my organisation] who instructed me to fill the card with names of activists of different associate bodies of the ruling party.
I filled them up and, in the organisation category [of the card], I put names of different media houses at my will.”
Our correspondents from several districts also said they have heard such allegations. They said local ruling party men and even relatives of local top leaders allegedly obtained press cards using the names of so-called newspapers.
Meanwhile, several journalists from Cumilla said they did not get their pass cards until 8:00pm yesterday.
Masud Alam, local correspondent of Dhaka Tribune and Bangla Tribune, said, “Although, I am an active journalist, I did not get a press card but many post holders of local political parties obtained them.”
Imtiaz Ahmed, editor of local newspaper Ajker Cumilla, also did not get a pass.
“I am still trying to get a press card,” Imtiaz, also the local correspondent of Banglanews24.com, told our Cumilla Correspondent around 8:00pm yesterday.
In Lalmonirhat, local correspondents of Alokito Bangladesh, Naya Diganta, Sangram, and Jagonews were not given press cards until 8:30pm, reports our district correspondent.
Asked about the allegations, Asaduzzaman said the EC has already issued directives for press cards and, after proper verification, the cards were issued.
However, there are journalists who are also involved with politics and such allegations may arise in such cases, he added.