Even as the Bangladesh Election Commission (BEC) proceeds to go ahead with an already tainted electoral process, ugly feuds among the Awami League’s official party, dummy and alliance candidates have broken out with allegations of partisan decisions against the poll panel flying thick and fast.
While the BEC has evidently taken a partisan stand on Sajjadul Hassan, a former senior secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Chairman of Biman Bangladesh’s Board of Directors, a Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) nominee on December 9 filed an appeal with the poll panel seeking the immediate disqualification of the Awami League candidate for Netrakona-4 constituency. The JSD is an alliance partner of the Awami League.
In gross violation of a recent Dhaka High Court order and other established electoral rules and regulations, the BEC brazenly refuses to take any decision on Hassan’s questionable nomination.
Today, the Awami League’s “dummy” candidate for the Tangail-6 seat, Kazi A T M Anisur Rahman Bulbul, flew off the handle and angrily trained his guns against Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal for rejecting his nomination papers.
Speaking to Northeast News, an angry Anisur Rahman said, “My human, political and civil rights have been violated. The CEC told me to get out of his room and threatened me with police action against me just because I insisted on the validity of my nomination papers. My nomination papers were rejected on the specious ground that the pages containing the signatures of 1,000 voters, attesting to my candidature, were not serially numbered”.
Alleging “conspiracy”, Anisur Rahman, who submitted his nomination papers as an Awami League “dummy” candidate on December 3, said, “This is a mockery of democracy and democratic rights and the election process has been reduced to a farce even though our leader Sheikh Hasina had herself encouraged party leaders to contest the election as dummy candidates”.
Anisur Rahman said that his appeal before the BEC was filed on December 5 but was rejected on December 10. He has now decided to move court against the rejection of his appeal.
The case of former BNP leader Shahjahan Omar, who joined the Awami League immediately after he stepped out of jail – on bail – in a case related to the violent incidents surrounding political events on October 28, is even more glaring.
An independent candidate, identified as Mohammad Maniruzzaman (of Jhalokathi district), on December 9 filed an appeal with the BEC which rejected his nomination papers but approved Omar’s even though the latter failed to mention the pending criminal case against him in documents that he submitted to the poll panel.
Suffice it to say that Omar was “enticed” by Bangladeshi intelligence agency officials to switch loyalty from the BNP to contest as an Awami League candidate on November 29 when he walked out of jail where he was lodged along with several other top BNP leaders who had been booked for their alleged involvement in the October 28 violence.
Soon after being discharged from jail, allegations surfaced that Omar was “blackmailed” by the intelligence agency officials who threatened to make public photographs in which he is seen in the company of some women. Besides, there were allegations that he switched to the Awami League for certain “consideration”.
Omar was assigned by the Awami League to contest the Jhalokathi-1 seat. But not only did he fail to mention the criminal case pending against him, he allegedly did not complete writing out all the details required to be filed with the nomination papers.
Speaking to Northeast News, Maniruzzaman said that he “still works for the Awami League” but filed his nomination papers as an “independent” candidate from Jhalokathi-1 constituency.
“How could the BEC’s returning officer approve his nomination papers much of which were not filled in?” Maniruzzaman asked. At the same time, sources close to Maniruzzaman alleged that “there is no crime or offence that Omar has not committed and that includes illicit liaison with Hindu women”.