The Election Commission seems to be lenient about violation of the electoral code of conduct as it has taken no action although its instructions to parties and authorities concerned to go by the code have fallen flat.
Neither the police have launched special drives to seize illegal arms and arrest the listed criminals nor does the commission have any plan to reshuffle the field administrations to ensure neutrality of officials and a level playing field ahead of the 11th parliamentary elections schedule for December 30.
Campaign materials of nomination aspirants mostly from the ruling Awami League seeking votes were still on display in Dhaka and at places across the country violating the electoral code of conduct while the dateline for the removal of such publicity stuffs expired Sunday past midnight.
New Age correspondents in districts reported that thousands of posters seeking votes for aspirants of different political parties were still there on the walls at places.
In the capital, banners, posters and graffiti seeking vote were found in different areas, including Gabtoli, Gulistan, Naya Paltan, Dhanmondi, Wari, Motijheel, Captan Bazar, Farmgate, Lalbagh, Uttara, Jatrabari, Mirpur and Tejgaon on Monday.
Aspirants, their supporters and trade unions of different government and private offices have covered the walls with posters, hanged banners and made graffiti seeking votes for the ruling Awami League, the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the Jatiya Party faction led by HM Ershad.
Commission secretary Helaluddin Ahmed told reporters on Monday that no punitive action was taken against anyone for violating the electoral code of conduct till Monday.
He also said that returning officers and other authorities concerned were asked to take actions against the code violators.
He claimed that about 90 per cent of illegal campaign materials had been removed by the deadline.
This time, the elections are set to be held with the field administration the government has laid out as the commission has no plan to bring about any change in the administration.
Opposition alliance Jatiya Oikya Front on November 14 demanded that the commission needed to reshuffle the field administration, laid out by the government, to ensue minimum neutrality of the field administration during the elections.
Governance campaigners said that the reshuffle of the field administration was a precondition for a fair election as the field officials were directly involved in conducting polls.
They said that the field administration, including the police administration, had been reshuffled in consultation with the commission before previous general elections to ensure neutrality of the field-level officials.
Election commissioner M Rafiqul Islam said that the commission had no plan to ask the government to reshuffle the field administration.
He said that the commission would only think about the matter if complaints were raised against any particular officer.
He said that the commission had not asked the law enforcement agencies to conduct any special drives to seize illegal arms.
He said that seizure of illegal arms was a routine work and the commission remained the law enforcement agencies of their routine work only.
He said that the commission issued no instruction to the police to arrest listed criminals to avoid ‘unexpected incidents’.
The commission on Saturday issued a notification stating that actions would be taken against aspirants, parties and owners of buildings, enterprises, markets and transports from where posters, banners, graffiti, billboard, gate, marquees, lightings and campaign materials for votes would not be removed by the deadline.
The commission also asked the city corporations, municipal councils and other local government bodies to take necessary steps in this regard for ensuring a level playing field.
Dhaka North City Corporation public relations officer ASM Mamun said that the city corporation had so far removed 1.3 lakh posters and festoons and five teams continued monitoring the violation of the electoral code.
He said that they were yet to take any punitive action against anyone.
Dhaka South City Corporation also ran drives to remove posters Monday and removed several thousand posters from walls in different areas, including Azimpur, Purana Paltan, Motijheel and Khilgaon area.
Its additional chief waste management officer Khandaker Millatul Islam said that still thousands of posters and banners were there in different city streets even after crash programme to remove them.
He said that they removed huge posters of not only nomination seekers but different government organisations also.
He said that no action was taken anyone as they found none of the code violators on the spot.
‘We have collected samples of the poster of the campaign materials to submit to the Election Commission for taking actions,’ he said.
After the announcement of the polls schedule on November 8, at least six people — two in Dhaka and four Narsinghdi — were killed in AL internal clashes.
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