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Local govt move criticised as all not involved

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Local govt move criticised as all not involved

Bahram Khan, The Report: There are allegations that the government took the move on local government electoral reform without discussing it with the political parties and implementing agencies.

Though the ruling party leaders discussed it among themselves, the other parties concerned were not involved in the process and resultantly the move left the ruling party under fire.

The ruling party says the local government election under party banners will strengthen democracy. On the other hand, the BNP has termed the move ‘motivated’.

About this, BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told The Report, “This is a major decision. It would be better, if the issue was discussed with the political parties. The issue will be discussed further in the (our) party forum. Then I’ll talk about it in details.”

Local government and election experts say this decision is immature in view of the state of the political parties in Bangladesh. This will help promote individualism. This will not benefit the local governments as institutions. In the parliamentary election the political parties nominate their candidates who contest election with their respective party symbols. The government is going to amend laws for holding the union council, upazila, district, municipality and city corporation elections in the same way.

Sushasaner Janya Nagorik (SUJAN) secretary Badiul Alam Majumder said, “This system will harm the local governments.”

On the other hand, local government expert Tofayel Ahmed said, “If the intention is good, it will leave a good impact. But we all know who now control the politics.”

The existing electoral laws do not allow participation of anyone in the local government polls with party symbols. Only there is a tacit party support for particular candidates and based on that the media also tallies the numbers of winning and losing candidates from the parties. But in the proposed amendment to the laws the independent candidates will be allowed to run for election. But the party candidates deprived of nomination will lose the qualification to run for election as independent candidates, it has been learnt.

On Monday last the routine cabinet meeting approved on principle the amendment to the laws for holding elections to union councils, upazila councils, district councils, municipalities and city corporations under party banners.

Seeking anonymity, a city corporation mayor told The Report, “If the elections are held under the party banners, the central committees of the parties will be stronger. On the other hand, the local governments will reap no benefits. The government did not even find it necessary to talk the issue with others. As if, there are no other political parties in the country. The issue has not been discussed in the parliament. Even the government did not take the opinions of the local government representatives.”

Shah Md Fakhrul Islam Firoz, who was elected chairman of Kalmakanda upazila in Netrakona on the Awami League ticket, told The Report, “The local government election under party banners is a good initiative. But I do not support the system that will leave no scope for those deprived of party nomination to run for election as independent candidates.”

Soon after formation of the government for the second successive term the Awami League general secretary and the then LGRD minister Syed Ashraful Islam gave his opinion in favour of holding local government elections under party banners and with party symbols. Later Awami League president and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister’s adviser Sajeeb Wajed Joy, AL presidium member Nuh-ul Alam Lenin, Obaidul Kader and other senior leaders gave their opinions in favour of implementing this on different occasions.

In March 2014 Syed Ashraful Islam said, “Those who do not believe in democracy want to keep it non-partisan. If the election is held under the party banners, the local governments will be strengthened. The local government laws are being scrutinized at the directive of the Prime minister in this connection.”

In continuation of the exercise, the cabinet approved the amendment to the five local government laws one and a half years later. Of them, the municipality elections will kick off in December next. So, the municipality (amendment) law will be issued in the form of an ordinance for now, according to cabinet secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan. Later all the laws will be placed in the parliament for amendment.

Ends/AR/thereport24.com/Oct 15, 2015