BNP yesterday demanded reelections to Dhaka south and north city corporations scrapping Saturday’s voting, as the party said people’s verdict was not reflected in the polls.
“People’s opinion was not reflected in the city polls as they could not cast their votes. So, we call for cancelling the results of those elections and holding fresh election to the two city corporations,” Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, secretary general of the party, said while speaking at a post-election press conference at a hotel in the capital.
He claimed that only 7-9 percent votes were cast in the city polls, held on February 1.
BNP’s mayoral candidates Tabith Awal and Ishraque Hossain arranged the press conference to give their formal reactions to Dhaka north and south city corporation’s polls.
Fakhrul alleged that voter presence in the elections was very low, as people have no confidence in the government and the Election Commission.
Tabith Awal, who contested as BNP’s mayoral runner in Dhaka North City Corporation, demanded that the EC transparently presents all the information about the results of the city elections.
He also said voters were not allowed to enter polling stations at the behest of senior Awami League leaders.
“Attempts to control the voting centers were made by creating false voter lines and keeping ruling party activists there. The ruling party didn’t allow voters to come to polling stations in a planned way, to rig votes.”
“The results were fabricated. Those in power did not let voters come to the centres. We had to wait till 4am to get the results, but the Awami League-backed candidates met the prime minister at 9pm and announced themselves as mayors,” he said.
“It proves that a free and fair election can never be held under the present government and the Election Commission,” said Tabith, who lost the contest by 183,050 votes to AL mayor candidate Atiqul Islam.
“If someone can be put behind bars for beating up police, then why are perpetrators behind attacks on journalists on the loose?”
The elections failed badly due to EVMs (electronic voting machines), the “sheaf of paddy” symbol was not even included in many of the machines, alleged Ishraque Hossain, who contested for the mayor post of Dhaka South City Corporation.
He apologised for failing to keep his promise of ensuring a safe environment for voters. “Voters were unjustly treated. Instead of arranging a fair election for the people, they [the government] disappointed us by rigging votes,” he said.
“I expected that they [AL] would read the pulse of the people. Considering the future, they would take initiative to hold a free and fair election and attempt to restore democracy, but they pushed the country into darkness.”
The young BNP leader said, “In this election, we had some achievements. We were able to make people understand that people of the country do not have basic rights. We hope that the people will raise their voices demanding their rights. I am waiting for that day.”
The BNP leaders and activists had been on the streets during the polls campaign, but their presence in and around the polling centres was thin on the election day. There were no polling agents of the two BNP mayor candidates in many voting centres.
Tabith and Ishraque eventually lost to their AL counterparts Atiqul Islam and Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh.