Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda yesterday said no incident of violation of electoral law happened during the filing of nomination papers across the country on Wednesday.
However, the CEC's remark contradicts media reports that said many Awami League and BNP leaders flouted the polls code on the last day of filing nominations.
The leaders, including ministers and lawmakers, along with a large number of supporters and party men were seen gathering at the returning officers' offices. Some of them even enjoyed government privileges while submitting the documents.
The Election Commission deployed 691 executive magistrates across the country to check violation of polls code, but there was no report on any action against any candidate.
Addressing a programme for trainers of polls officials in the city's Nirbachan Bhaban, the CEC yesterday said nomination papers were submitted amid festivity and enthusiasm.
“During the filing of nomination papers, they [lawmaker aspirants] all were accompanied by 5-7 people. There were some people outside, but there was no procession or showdown,” Huda said.
On Wednesday, EC Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed also said candidates submitted nomination papers amid fanfare and there was no untoward incident.
“We have not received any news of violation of electoral code of conduct,” he told reporters.
Talking to The Daily Star, former caretaker government adviser M Hafizuddin Khan said many candidates violated the polls code which was reported in print and electronic media throughout Wednesday.
“The Election Commission's response regarding the violation of polls code during submission of nominations is indicative of how the upcoming national election will be held.
“How can we expect a free and fair election from the incumbent Election Commission that remains blind and deaf after such violations of electoral code of conduct?” Hafizuddin said.
Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh, said the EC's response was naive and disappointing.
“It is naive because the Election Commission is apparently doing its desperate bid to fool its listeners. It is disappointing because it only adds to the enormity of reasons for lack of public trust in this constitutional body.
“The Election Commission has crossed the limits of sycophancy to an extent that it does not see the most naked forms of violation of electoral rules,” Iftekharuzzaman added.
Parliamentary affairs expert Nizamuddin Ahmed, also a professor of public administration at Chittagong University, said field level EC officials certainly saw the violation of electoral rules. “But I think they ignored the matter.”
“I think the Election Commission didn't want to get into rivalries with the candidates of major political parties at the beginning of the election process,” he said.
The CU teacher suggested that the media and other stakeholders should keep watch on the EC's measures for any major violation of the electoral rules in future.
CEC FOR MAINTAINING NEUTRALITY
In his speech, CEC Huda yesterday said an environment has been created for holding a participatory election on December 30.
He directed the trainers to maintain neutrality at the field level and to ask the presiding officers and their assistants to ensure it.
“You should treat a candidate as a candidate. Ensure equal opportunities for all of them.”
EC Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed and Electoral Training Institute Director General Mostafa Farook also spoke at the inaugural ceremony of the two-day training workshop yesterday. Around 400 trainers joined the programme.