The High Court will deliver its order today on a writ petition that challenged the legality of oath-taking of lawmakers elected in the December 30 national election.
Advocate Md Taherul Islam Tawhid filed the petition on January 14, praying to the HC to issue a rule asking 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 block the new lawmakers from discharging their functions.
The HC bench of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Md Ashraful Kamal fixed the date after holding a hearing yesterday.
During the hearing, Taherul's lawyer Barrister AM Mahbub Uddin Khokon argued that the oath-taking violated articles 123(3) and 148(3) of the constitution of Bangladesh.
According to article 123(3)(a), parliamentary election shall be held within 90 days of dissolving the incumbent parliament.
“As the 11th national election was held without dissolving the 10th parliament, the polls have breached the constitution,” Barrister Khokon said.
Moreover, as per article 148(3) if a person is required to make an oath before entering an office, s/he shall be deemed to have entered office immediately after the oath.
Following article 148(3), the new lawmakers shall be deemed to have taken office right after they were sworn in, Khokon added.
However, the 10th national parliament which first sat on January 29, 2014 still exists and will continue till January 28 this year as per Article 72(3) of the constitution, he said, adding, “the oath-taking of the lawmakers is hence unconstitutional”.
On the other hand, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam opposed the writ petition saying that the petitioner lacks locus standi or sufficient interest in the matter in question.
“Advocate Tawhid is neither an elected lawmaker nor a candidate of the December 30 election,” the AG said, adding that there is no legal basis for the court to consider the petition.
BNP leaders elected in the 11th parliamentary polls will not take oath as they have already rejected the results, alleging various irregularities including ballot stuffing and ouster of opposition polling agents from voting centres.
The party rather demands a re-election under a non-partisan interim administration, saying it has been proved that a free and fair election is not possible under a partisan government.
The BNP took the decisions in principle at a meeting of its standing committee at the party chairperson's Gulshan office, a day after the polls saw it win five seats while its ally Gonoforum two.
Replying to a query whether the lawmakers-elect from the BNP will take oath, party's General Secretary Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said, “We have rejected the polls results. We will also continue our legal battle and action programmes.”
Fakhrul, who secured Bogura-6 constituency, said this election proved that a credible election is not possible under any partisan government.
“The government using state machinery conducted such a farcical election that I think it is the most stigmatised election in the country ever,” he said at a press conference after the standing committee meeting.
He also alleged that most of the new voters were denied their right to vote on Sunday.
In a press statement, Gonoforum chief Dr Kamal Hossain said all the opposition candidates, including those of Jatiya Oikyafront, will submit memorandum to the Election Commission on Thursday demanding fresh polls.
They will also announce their next course of programme on that day.
“Countrymen witnessed and perceived it well how a farcical drama was staged in the name of election on December 30,” read the statement.
“Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Awami League and its loyal Election Commission have shown the world how to destroy the election system of an independent and sovereign country.”
Dr Kamal said though the polls results show the ruling Awami League is the winner, actually 17 crore people of Bangladesh have lost. “Through it our much expected democracy has been buried.”
'MOST BIASED PERSON'
Terming Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda the most biased person, Fakhrul said, “He [Huda] is a partisan person and his activities were questioned .... his view reflects the government's. He represents the government.”
At a post-election press conference yesterday, CEC Huda ruled out the opposition demand for a fresh election scrapping Sunday's parliamentary polls.
Fakhrul came down heavily on the CEC also for his comment that what can he do if BNP's agents do not come to the polling centres.
“This government using the state machinery barred our polling agents from going to polling centres. In my constituency, there were 100 percent presence of our polling agents but they were driven out.”
He said the party is now collecting all the evidence of vote rigging and then “we will move forward after talking with alliance partners”.
Alleging that “election engineering” was planned days ahead of the polls, he said its implementation began on December 29, the day before the election.
“Many now question why we participated in the election even after arrest of and attacks on the opposition leaders and activists,” Fakhrul said.
Explaining his party's position, he said, “We want to say clearly that we are a democratic political party and believe in transfer of power through peaceful election. We participated in the election to have democracy restored.”
Alleging that ruling party activists launched attacks on the opposition men after the election, Fakhrul said, “After the election, houses of opposition leaders and activists were attacked and set on fire.”
He claimed that since the announcement of election schedule, more than 21,000 opposition leaders and activists were arrested.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ICT Affairs Adviser and son Sajeeb Wazed Joy today explained why the Awami League secured absolute majority and its rival BNP experienced a debacle in the 11th parliamentary elections.
In a status published in his verified Facebook post, Sajeeb Wazed Joy has given his analysis of the polls results.
The BNP and Okyo Front, having been thoroughly rejected by our voters, have taken to begging their foreign masters for help. They are on an international lobbying and PR blitz to try to prove that our elections were rigged. The fact is that it is mathematically impossible. The Awami League's margin over the BNP is about 49 million votes. It is simply not possible to manipulate elections by 49 million votes without it being caught on everyone’s mobile camera. As for their claims of voter intimidation, even if every voter who did not vote for AL voted for the Okyo Front, they would still be more than 22 million votes short.
Still, a section of our so called "civil society" continues to join the BNP’s international PR campaign against our election. I would like to address all their complaints and raise a few of my own.
The first complaint is that voter turnout was too high and indicates false votes. The final voter turnout figure is 80% and it is not a record in Bangladesh. That distinction is held by the 2008 elections under the 2007-2008 "caretaker" regime when turnout was 87%. The AL won that election in a landslide with 48% of the vote by itself. In 2001 the voter turnout was around 75.6% and in 1996 it was 75%. Turnout was just slightly higher because this is the first fully participatory elections in a decade.
The second propaganda is that the ruling party received 90% of the vote. This is a complete falsehood. The AL by itself received around 72%. Our Mohajote allies received just under 5%. Even the 72% is not a record for the AL. In the 1973 election after Independence the AL received 73.2% of the vote. Just as the reason then was the AL led the country to Independence, our vote increase this time has two very good reasons.
The first reason is simply because our AL Government has improved the lives of our citizens more than any other government in Bangladesh’s history. We have become a middle income country, per capita income has trebled, poverty has been halved, almost everyone has access to education, basic healthcare, electricity, and the list is endless. If there was a way to improve the lives of the Bangladeshi people, our Government has done it or the progress is visible.
Our “civil society” keeps harping about how the Bangladeshi voters are anti-incumbent, but that is just an indication of how out of touch they are with the common man. If you are an ordinary citizen, even if you are a wealthy businessman, your life and business are doing so much better now since the AL has turned Bangladesh into the fastest growing economy in the world. Why would you vote against the government that has transformed your life and business?
The second reason is that our election campaign did not start last year. It started right after the 2014 elections. We have not wasted any opportunity to inform the Bangladeshi people that we, the Awami League, are solely responsible for the positive changes in their lives. All the social and economic successes that have happened were because of the vision, planning, execution and hard work of our AL Ministers, Members of Parliament, Councilors, everyone. While our opposition and “civil society” were busy complaining about problems, we were telling people how we were providing solutions.
One of the favorite refrains of our “civil society” was that we have the largest number of new voters in this election; they don’t care about political parties and would be anti-incumbent. What they did not consider was that these young men and women grew up with the visible development work of our AL Government making their lives better and easier every year. Why would they vote for anyone else?
I have been conducting opinion polls for the Awami League since 2013. If you will notice, there was a dearth of opinion polls from our “civil society” this year. Prior to the 2014 elections they were busy publicizing one poll after another how badly the Awami League was going to lose. The fact is very few people and organizations in Bangladesh know how to conduct an accurate opinion poll. I have studied polling at Harvard and have interviewed and tried several polling teams in Bangladesh before I found the one we use. We don’t do artificial polls to inflate our popularity because that does not give us the information we need. We poll to know what our popularity is for elections and so our polls need to be accurate.
Our final opinion poll two weeks before the elections showed that the AL would receive between 57%-63% of the vote and the BNP would receive between 19%-25%. So how did the AL receive 72% of the vote? Our opinion poll sampled the entire voters list in 300 constituencies, all 104 million voters. But there is never 100% voter turnout and elections were held in 298 seats, not 300. The number of registered voters in the 298 seats was 103.5 million and an 80% turnout means 82.8 million people voted. The AL received about 60 million votes. 60 million out of 103.5 million is 58% of registered voters in those seats. The AL actually received votes on the low side of our poll’s margin of error.
So why did the Okyo Front receive so few votes? There are some very logical reasons. The BNP’s Chairperson has been convicted and is in jail. Their Acting Chairperson is a fugitive who is not even in Bangladesh. Their organization is in complete disarray. But those are not the most significant factors. There is one factor our “civil society” doesn’t want to acknowledge as it makes the BNP look really, really bad!
I’ve observed its effect through annual opinion polls. Once the BNP started burning civilians alive during their 2013-15 arson attack campaign, their popularity fell off a cliff. Prior to the arson attacks the BNP was usually around 10% behind the AL in opinion polls. After the arson attacks they fell 30% behind and kept falling.
Then there was their self-defeating election campaign, or rather a lack of it. The first thing they did was bring out Tariq Rahman to pick election nominees. All this managed to do is remind people of Hawa Bhaban and his corruption and violence. To add fuel to the fire, he picked known and wanted criminals and war criminals as candidates! Do you think their popularity would increase or decrease after this?
Next, the message they kept sending out to their supporters until the last minute was that they would boycott the elections. If you think your party is going to boycott, are you going to go out to vote? This is what caused the drop in their voter turnout and hence, their low percentage of the vote.
Finally, the only message the BNP and Okyo Front had for the people of Bangladesh is that the AL is bad. Given that the people could see the visible improvements in their lives over the past decade of the AL Government this was an extremely tough sell.
The Oikyo Front’s figurehead Kamal Hossain did not even run in this election. Why is that? It is because he knew he had absolutely no chance of winning a seat for himself. Of course, they surprised us. For the very first time in their existence as a political non-entity, his Gono Forum has actually won not one, but two seats! If there was any rigging in these elections, how could an opposition party that has never won a single seat win two?
The truth is far simpler. If you’re a citizen and especially a youth who sees a dynamic leader such as Sheikh Hasina developing and transforming the country, it won’t matter how much mud the opposition slings. At the end of the day you are going to vote for the party that is improving your life and the country.
The Election Commission (EC) today sent a letter to the parliament secretary for taking necessary preparation to organise the oath-taking ceremony of the newly elected lawmakers of the 11th general election.
EC Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed said this while talking to reporters at the EC office today.
The MP-elect will take oath at the oathroom of the parliament at 11:00am tomorrow, sources at the Parliament Secretariat confirmed.
Yesterday, the commission published the gazette with details of 298 MPs with the EC’s approval.
According to the article 148 (2A) of the Constitution, the newly elected members of parliament will be obliged to take oath within three days after the publication of election results through official gazette, or else their memberships will cease to exit.
The new cabinet may take oath on Sunday.
In the December 30 parliamentary election, the AL-led Grand Alliance won 288 seats in the Jatiya Sangsad against the BNP-led Oikyafront's seven.
Three independent candidates also became victorious.
The election in Brahmanbaria-2 was suspended as voting at three polling centres was suspended over violence. Polling in those centres will be held on January 9.
Polls in Gaibanda-3 were rescheduled for January 27 following the death of a candidate.