We are appalled at the way a lawmaker and AL candidate contesting from Natore-2 has threatened voters of his constituency if they chose to vote for any other party other than the party with the “boat” symbol. A video footage that has gone viral on social media shows Shafiqul Islam Shimul warning local people that only those who vote for boat can go to the polling centres and those who don't vote for the AL candidate cannot do so. In fact he has categorically warned people of his area that anyone voting for the “sheaf of paddy” (meaning BNP) or a candidate under this symbol will not be allowed to go to the voting area. His threats are crystal clear: he has said if they want to stay in good health and live in the area, they should work with him and his activists. Conversely, if anyone is found to do otherwise will have to face “tough actions” after December 30 elections.
Such threats are blatant violations of the electoral code. Yet as far as we know no action has been taken against this lawmaker who has so openly tried to intimidate voters of the opposition parties. Is this what the EC calls a “level playing field” where voters are practically being terrorised to vote for a particular party or else face dire consequences? Why is the administration, which includes the EC, police and election officials, not doing anything against such a candidate who has no regard for electoral codes of conduct? Meanwhile the administration has completely failed to prevent attacks on opposition candidates and supporters. There are reports that an RO has ignored the complaints made by an aggrieved candidate of the opposition regarding attacks on her supporters.
Such disturbing incidents do little to give us confidence regarding the upcoming election day as far as how freely voters will be able to vote.