Govt out to manipulate vote: BNP

The main opposition BNP has said the government was refusing to deploy the army in Saturday’s elections to four city corporations in order to enable the ruling Awami-League-led Grand Alliance to ‘manipulate the results’ in favour of its candidates.“We think that Saturday’s election is an acid test for both the present government and the Election Commission. Influential government people are violating the electoral code of conduct in the four city corporations. We’ve information that the local administration is working in favour of the government-backed candidates,” senior BNP leader Moudud Ahmed said on Friday.
He repeated his demand for army deployment and said: “If you don’t do that, we’ll think that the government wants to rig the votes, establish control over the polling centres and manipulate the results in favour of ruling party-backed candidates.”
The BNP Standing Committee Member was speaking at a gathering organised by the Bangladesh Democratic Council at the National Press Club.
The four city corporations – Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet and Barisal – go to polls on Saturday.
Though the BNP did not openly field any candidate in the previous local government elections, it is treating the four city corporation polls with considerable importance. It has nominated candidates for each of them this time.
Though the BNP has long been demanding army deployment to ensure free and fair polls, the Election Commission has said that the members of the regular forces (BGB, RAB and police) were enough to maintain law and order.
With the government and Election Commission remaining unresponsive, the BNP has sought the Speaker’s intervention to get the army on the streets.
BNP MP and opposition acting chief whip M Shahid Uddin Chowdhury Anee and BNP MP Jafrul Islam Chowdhury made the demand in Parliament on Thursday.
Besides, a BNP delegation, led by its Standing Committee Member Abdul Moyeen Khan, met the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) on Thursday, complaining that government-backed persons in high positions, Ministers and MPs were trying to influence the polls.
However, CEC Kazi Rakib Uddin Ahmed said he saw no need to bring in the army.
“We would like to make it clear that still there is time; deploy the army to prove your honesty and confidence in democracy,” Moudud said in an obvious reference to the government.
The former law minister said, “We’ve reports that the influential government people are exerting influence on the local administration and the Election Commission by using (national) flag (in their cars). It’s clear from the activities of the ruling party that they’re very active.”
The BNP claimed the local administration was working in favour of the ruling party-backed candidates and ‘tactically’ influencing the voters.
“We know why the Officers-In-Charge (OCs) of seven police stations have been transferred,” he added.

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