Politicians left out of celebration
The Election Commission (EC) thought better of inviting politicians to yesterday's celebration of its successful completion of the voter registration task at the field level to "avoid controversy".
A senior official involved in organising the programme said intelligence agencies objected to inviting a few politicians suspected of corruption.
Asked about the matter, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) ATM Shamsul Huda yesterday told reporters that he did not know anything about it and suggested communicating with the EC secretary.
When contacted, EC Secretary Humayun Kabir told reporters that politicians were not invited because of space constraints at the Radisson Hotel, the venue of the function.
He said politicians were included in the preliminary list for invitation "but we could not invite them due to space constraints at the celebration venue."
Of its own employees, the EC Secretariat invited only the first class officials to the programme. Employees, who worked for the voter listing from the very beginning, tried to communicate with the CEC on Monday to express their desire to participate in the celebration but failed to draw his attention.
The EC invited 500 guests including civil and military bureaucrats, civil society personalities, diplomats and leaders of professional bodies to the celebration held yesterday afternoon.
Representatives from all communities were supposed to be invited to the programme.
Putting to rest all scepticism about the project's success, the EC completed the field level task of voter registration in the first week of this month, registering 8.05 crore voters.
It has also had ready the electronic database of the voters, perhaps one of the largest electronic databases of electoral rolls in the world and definitely the largest in developing countries.
The project's senior official said all preparations were made to invite politicians to the programme as they were invited to celebrate the halfway mark of voter registration at the same venue earlier on March 2 this year.
But the decision on not inviting the politicians was taken on the eve of sending the invitation letters, he added.
He said intelligence agencies objected to inviting Dhaka City Corporation Mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka and Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid to the programme as both of them are facing corruption charges.
Besides, presence of a political leader in the March 2 celebration created controversy. "So, we finally decided not to invite any politician," the senior official said.
Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed attended the function as chief guest while Army Chief General Moeen U Ahmed and UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Renata Dessallien were present as special guests.
The CEC delivered the welcome address at the function.