I didn’t see it
The Election Commission could do nothing as no aggrieved person went to the court with allegations of ballot-box stuffing the night before election day, Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda yesterday said.
Elections under the current EC were fair, competitive and held amid festivity. Some quarters were criticising the commission as they were not given "work" and for their personal interests, he claimed.
He made the comments during a discussion organised by Reporters Forum for Election and Democracy at the EC office.
Huda said that the election held on December 30, 2018, was free and fair.
"I cannot say anything conclusive based on the allegations. Because I didn't see it. You didn't even see it [ballot-box stuffing the night before voting]," the CEC said responding to a question.
After publishing of the names of winners in gazettes, any aggrieved candidate could have gone to the court within 30 days, he said, adding that "none had gone to the court. We had nothing to do as none went to the court".
"Had they gone to the court and there was a probe based on the directives of the court, the thing [ballot-box stuffing] could have been revealed.
"Elections across the country could have been cancelled. It is up to the political parties to figure out why they did not file complaints. They missed this opportunity," he said.
On cent percent votes cast in over 200 polling stations in the last national election, he said, "I had previously said that it was abnormal and I am saying it now again."
He said holding polls under a partisan government was hard, but this is the best path for democracy.
Huda criticised former CEC ATM Shamsul Huda who recently said the current EC's work was not satisfactory. "He [Shamsul Huda] has not said anything for so long. Now he started to give wisdom. I could not accept his words … ," he said.
He said the responsibility of the EC was to conduct the election within 90 days of the dissolution of parliament, but CEC Shamsul conducted the polls after 690 days. "Who gave him the right to violate the constitution?"
He claimed that Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan) Secretary Badiul Alam Majumdar had been involved in financial irregularities while working with the ATM Shamsul Huda-led EC.
Huda claimed that Badiul approached him for work several times. As he did not get any work, he started to criticise the EC.
Asked about Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukdar's criticism of candidates getting elected unopposed, Huda said the EC cannot do anything if political parties do not run in the elections.
"He stayed in the ICU and CCU … he spent Tk 30 to Tk 40 lakh in a year as medical expenses paid by the EC … and he makes comments for getting those published by the media … all these are personal comments," Huda said.
He requested the next EC not to abandon the EVM system. This EC has preparations that the EVMs could be easily used in half the constituencies in the next general election, he said.
"We were not under any kind of pressure from anyone. None have tried to take any undue benefits from us during our tenure," Huda said.