In just a matter of one week, the zila parishad polls have cast a dark shadow over the relief that the Narayanganj elections had brought. This was the first ever district council election in the country and should have evoked more enthusiasm and public participation than the Narayanganj city corporation polls. However, with no party other than the ruling Awami League in the fray, that did not happen. This was no competition, just a perfunctory exercise. The election commission and the authorities cannot evade responsibility. One-sided election won’t consolidate democracy.
Election through indirect vote goes against the constitution and verdict in the case regarding the 13th amendment about the caretaker government. Also, the fact that 21 persons were elected uncontested indicates that if for any reason the next general election is one sided, this may be repeated all over again.
The one-sided election also exacerbated the conflicts within Awami League itself at the grassroots. No action was taken against the persons involved in the violence during these elections, rendering the law enforcement more ineffective. This election also was also marked by shady financial transactions, as even Awami League’s general secretary remarked.
Strengthening the election commission is not the only factor required for a free and fair election. Participation of the opposition is also required for credible polls. Awami League must make an assessment of the winning rebel candidates not from an opportunist stand, but ethically and introspectively. As in the union parishad elections, after the zila parishad elections too, Awami League was seen to clash against Awami League. It is the ruling party’s responsibility to be sincere in including all parties in the election process, for their own sake and for the sake of democracy.
We await the hearing in High Court of the two writs regarding the legality of the zila parishad elections. Just because the election is over does not mean the writ is void.