EC indifferent as most candidates breach electoral codeStaff Correspondent
Most of the mayoral aspirants for Dhaka South City and Dhaka North city appeared to be violating electoral code of conduct with the Election Commission taking no visible action against them until Thursday.
Many of the electioneering materials of different mayoral and councillor aspirants for the Dhaka city polls were still in place on Thursday in defiance of the Election Commission’s order to remove those by midnight past Wednesday.
Meanwhile, most of the candidates who turned up at the returning officers’ offices in last two days to collect nomination papers were accompanied by more than five supporters in violation of electoral code.
Electoral rules stipulate that a candidate would be able to take not more than five people with them to collect or submit the nomination papers.
On the other hand, many candidates, both mayoral and councillor, were seen conducting election campaign visiting different parts of their election areas though electioneering in any forms are prohibited before 21 days till election day.
Though some of the billboards and banners of different mayoral and councillor aspirants were removed by midnight past Wednesday, many such election materials were still seen on the city walls on Thursday.
Posters of different mayoral candidates including Shirin Akhtar, AL’s Sayed Khokan, Awalad Hossain, Hazi Selim and Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, and BNP’s Abdus Salam and Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu
were seen on different city walls.
A gate of Jatiya Party’s Kazi Firoz Rashid in which he sought the blessings of the city dwellers for the city polls was seen in place in front of the party’s Bijoy Nagar central office in the city.
On Thursday, Awami League’s former organising secretary Mahmudur Rahman Manna, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal standing committee member Shirin Akhter, former BNP lawmakers Ekhlasuddin Molla and Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu, and Democratic Left Alliance leader M Inamul Haque picked up nomination forms for the mayoral race.
A good number of supporters, much higher than five, accompanied all of the mayoral candidates during the collection of nomination papers. Ekhlasuddin Molla went to the returning officer’s office at Agargaon in a small motorcade.
But the EC did not take any legal actions till Thursday against the respective candidates for the violations of electoral code of conduct.
When his attention was drawn to the violation of electoral codes, election commissioner Md Shahnewaz said the EC would issue notices in a day or two to the respective candidates who did not comply with its directives to give them a warning.
‘The returning officers will issue notice to the respective candidates. These activities will be considered negative attitude of the candidates when their candidature will be scrutinised,’ said Shahnewaz.
‘We have engaged officials to take photographs of code-violating activities with date,’ he added.
The EC on Thursday wrote to Rapid Action Battalion director general and Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner to take legal action against those who will go for any kind of electioneering before May 3, EC’s senior assistant secretary Farhad Hossain told New Age.
The letter also asked the law enforcing agencies to take measures to remove the posters, banners, billboards and graffitis from the walls.
Farhad Hossain said several teams of the commission headed by assistant returning officers in assistance with the city corporations and police conducted drive throughout the day on Thursday to remove the posters, banners and billboards.
Meanwhile, the EC in a circular on Thursday asked its officials to attend offices even on the weekly and government holidays until the election day and asked the officials concerned to form vigilance and monitoring teams to oversee the activities of the candidates.
The circular also asked the officials concerned to form a ‘cell to maintain law and order’ in the run up to the elections.
So far, about 800 nomination papers, including 15 for the posts of mayor, have been sold out for the polls to be held on May 24.
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