EC in deep soup as court clears more JS polls candidates
The Election Commission (EC) yesterday decided to allow 21 candidates it had ruled out earlier to be in the parliamentary race on orders from the Supreme Court (SC).
The decision that comes only 10 days before the December 29 election might hamper the electoral process as preparations including printing of ballot papers are at the final stage, fear EC officials.
It signifies the predicament the EC finds itself in for more and more of the discarded contestants getting SC rulings in their favour.
The returning officers (RO) who completed allocation of electoral symbols on December 12 will now have to assign symbols to the 21.
The EC will have to get rid of ballot papers if printed for any constituencies of the latest entrants and print new ones.
Of those who had their electoral bids ruled valid after publication of the final list of candidates on December 14, six are from BNP, three from Awami League, two from Jatiya Party and the rest are independent candidates.
Most of them had been screened out for convictions and defaulting on loans or utility service bills.
As of filing this report at 10:30am, the EC Secretariat was working to issue letters directing the ROs to allocate symbols to the 21, said sources.
Talking to reporters at his office yesterday evening, a visibly frustrated Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) ATM Shamsul Huda said, “We'll keep accepting candidacy till the day before election.
“If the High Court thinks we can correct and print ballot papers even till the day before the polls, we will do so; we'll have to do so.”
Asked how they will allocate electoral symbols now, he said, “We can do that as well. We have magical powers, we are supermen.”
Queried if the EC accepts candidature till December 28, then when it will have ballot papers printed and dispatched to polling stations, Huda said the election in that case would be held without ballot papers.
Asked how, he answered, “Aren't they [courts] considering if it's humanly possible? Since they think we can, then of course we can.”
Replying to another query, the polls chief said. “The commission is receiving a court order every five minutes.”
Asked if the EC will file appeal against those, he said, “We don't have the energy and patience for that.”
Throughout the day yesterday the commissioners and EC officials were busy trying to work out a solution to the problem.
They even discussed if it was possible to postpone elections in the constituencies in question and hold those after the matters are settled at courts, meeting sources said.
After much deliberation, the EC decided to accept the candidature and directed its secretariat officials to ask the returning officers concerned to take necessary measurers.
Referring to the complexities of symbol allocation, the EC officials said they shudder even to think of what is awaiting them.
To make matters worse, some of those who got back their candidacy belong to BNP, AL and JP. Others from the parties in those constituencies have already been allocated symbols.
A senior official said the ROs will have to allocate the parties' electoral symbols to the new ones, cancelling the previous allocations.
“Now those from whom the symbols will be taken away might move to the court against the decisions,” he added.
The candidates from BNP winning court orders are Golam Mawla Khan Bablu in Sirajganj-5, Major (retd) Manjur Kader in the same constituency, Kabir Ahmad Bhuiyan in Laxmipur-2, Shahidul Alam Talukder in Patuakhali-2, Abdus Sobhan in Barisal-1 and Abdul Gafur Bhuiyan in Comilla-10, from AL are Matiur Rahman in Mymensingh-4, Habibur Rahman Mollah in Dhaka-5 and Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir in Chandpur-1, and from Jatiya Party are Fakir Ashraf in Netrakona-2 and Kazi Zafar Ahmed in Comilla-11.
The independent candidates are Lutfozzaman Babar in Netrakona-4, Barun Kumer Dey Biswas in Satkhira-3, Zafar Ahmed Chowdhury in Chittagong-14, Dewan Nazrul Islam in Tangail-7, Ataur Rahman Shamim in Moulvibazar-2, Azizul Huq Chowdhury in Dinajpur-6, BM Selim Reza in Jessore-2, Sachindra Lal Dey in Chittagong-3, Siddiqur Rahman Manna in Bhola-3 and Shahidul Islam in Narsingdi-5.