Polls using EVM: Raushan sees nothing wrong
In total contrast to the party chairman's position on the use of electronic voting machines in the polls, Raushan Ershad yesterday said the Jatiya Party will certainly participate in the next general election even if it is held with EVMs in place.
In a video message from a Bangkok hospital, Raushan Ershad, the chief patron of JP and leader of the opposition in parliament, hoped that the next general election will be free and fair and the winning side will work to take the country forward.
The video message, which was recorded on September 25, was released through a press conference at a Dhaka hotel yesterday.
Golam Moshi, Raushan's political secretary and a former ambassador, and several other JP leaders who were either not appointed to any post of the party or relieved from their posts apparently for siding with Raushan, were present at the briefing.
On the other hand, JP Chairman GM Quader said there is a possibility of stealing votes using EVMs in the polls.
"It is not the question of whether the machine is good or bad. The question is whether those who will operate the machines can announce any results under pressure from the government," he said while talking to reporters after a programme at Lalmonirhat Nursing College yesterday.
Quader, also the deputy leader of the opposition in parliament, on several occasions categorically said they were against using electronic voting machines in the national polls, likely in January 2024, as "EVMs are nothing but the tools of forgery".
On September 25, he said the JP would not participate in any elections if the voting machines are used.
The party, also during recent talks with the Election Commission, took a position again EVMs, saying these devices can be manipulated.
The JP chairman yesterday told this correspondent, "Raushan Ershad is now sick and I think she is acting on someone's instruction. Her statement on the party's participation in the election does not carry any importance."
He also said Raushan does not represent the party and those who are with her also do not belong to the party. "I, therefore, think her statement will not create an impact on the party and thus the Jatiya Party remains united."
In her video message, Raushan said the JP never boycotted any election as the party always believed in the election.
"We didn't even boycott the election when we were in a serious crisis in 1990 [following the fall of HM Ershad's military regime]," she added.
"Jatiya Party must participate in the next national election even if EVMs are used," she said. "Elections are being held all over the world using EVMs. This is nothing new that elections in Bangladesh will be held using EVMs."
Raushan also questioned where is the bar to holding the election with EVMs "when we are using 5G technology".
"The winner always says the election is fair and the defeated side claims that polls were rigged using EVMs."
The opposition leader, who is known to have good terms with the government, further said people don't need to get disappointed as the next polls will be fair.
Without naming Quader, Raushan in her six-minute video alleged that the party has become weak and disorganised after the demise of its founder Ershad.
"The organisation will have to be made strong," she said, urging all JP leaders and activists to get united to ensure a good result for the party in the next general elections.
Raushan said the aim of the next party council, to be held on November 26, is to bring new and young faces to the party.
Golam Moshi in the briefing blasted the JP top leaders who are saying Raushan is acting on instructions of certain people who do not belong to the party.
Out of ten leaders who were on the stage during yesterday's briefing, eight had been presidium members and two vice presidents of JP. Almost all of them got relieved from the party posts in the last three years as they were close to Raushan, party insiders said.
The rift between Raushan, widow of JP founder HM Ershad, and GM Quader, younger brother of Ershad intensified following her announcement of holding the party's council.
Raushan, all of a sudden and unilaterally on August 30, convened the council for November 26.
It apparently prompted the JP Parliamentary Party at a September 1 meeting to decide to have Raushan removed from the post of the opposition leader in parliament.
After the meeting, a letter signed by Mashiur Rahman Ranga, the opposition chief whip and JP lawmaker from Rangpur-1, was submitted to Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, urging her to make Quader the opposition leader.
The Speaker at the time told the media that she would decide on the matter later.
But Ranga, a JP presidium member known to be loyal to Raushan, on September 20 again wrote to the Speaker to withdraw his previous letter saying he was forced by Quader to sign the letter.
Meanwhile on September 14, Quader removed Ranga from all party posts as he talked against the decision to remove Raushan as the opposition leader.
Quader in the last three weeks expelled at least three senior leaders, including Ranga, from their party posts.
There are 26 MPs in JP and, according to party insiders, four to five of them are loyal to Raushan.