Ghulam Mohammed Ǫuader
Publish: Daily Sun | Thursday, 28 March, 2024 10:17
The voter turnout was far less than the declared figure as was perceived and was shown with reasons earlier. Naturally, the question arises of how the average of 41.8% voter turnout could be reached.

The only possible answer could be that a significant number of ballots were stuffed in favour of a certain candidate.

Another scenario might be, rather than counting the votes, the concerned authorities have fabricated and declared the results according to their own choice. We can reasonably argue that despite not being cast by voters, a significant number of votes somehow made their way into the published results. The winning candidate was favoured by vote rigging.

Let us now analyse the situation in different constituencies during the election. The observations are logical perceptions, based on views and documents provided by Jatiyo Party candidates, their workers, supporters and voters at large.
A free, fair and impartial election environment was seen in a handful of constituencies. It could be as per the desire of the ruling party/government. The elections in these constituencies were almost uncontested. The ruling party did not put any candidate.

An alternately heavyweight candidate from the ruling party was the only participant. The voter turnout in these areas was not satisfactory by any standard. Thus, even if this election can be claimed as free, fair and impartial, it was not a participatory or inclusive election.

At a larger number of constituencies, the election was held as what can be called a “Free Style” election. In these areas, the candidates were not bound to abide by any of the Election rules and regulations.

Huge money and muscle power were used freely. None of the Election rules and regulations was upheld in these areas. Candidates tried to win by any means necessary and have successfully done so. Awami League workers and leaders acted as mercenaries and worked for candidates who provided better facilities.
These constituencies usually had a ruling party nominated candidate, a ruling party candidate as independent and in some cases Jatiyo party, other party or other independent candidates. In some of these constituencies, there was no ruling party candidate but the ruling party candidate as independent contested.

As mentioned earlier, a smaller presence of voters and the availability of unused ballot papers could make it possible to tip the results in favour of a certain candidate. It is also evident that the election authorities too had an impulse to demonstrate higher voter presence. This has presented an opportunity to use the blank ballot papers by the people in charge.

According to many sources, huge money, muscle power and connection with the authorities have made it easy for the ruling party nominated candidates or their nominated independent candidates to take advantage of these unused blank ballot papers. In a few cases, other independent candidates have also taken advantage of this opportunity. This was a major factor in obtaining favourable election results.

Allegedly, all the people related to the election process, including local administration, law enforcement and others, were persuaded or influenced in some way to cooperate in this act of result manipulation.

In the case of remaining constituencies, the public at large believe that no matter what was there in the election, the results were predetermined. It is a widely accepted perception that a good number of unused ballot papers were stuffed or result sheets were fabricated.

As a result, none of the above-mentioned elections are deemed to be free, fair and neutral.
The allegations presented here have not been confirmed by any judiciary, hence elections are not considered illegal. Nevertheless, most of the population do not believe the Election was a good one that appropriately reflected the opinion of the people at large.

Contemporary rules and regulations were massively violated. It is alleged that the authorities in charge have tried to avoid responsibility. In some cases, it is also alleged, the authorities themselves got involved in the manipulation.

To conduct a morally acceptable election in future, one that truly reflects the opinion of the people; a set of rules, laws and even the Constitution may have to be modified and amended.

The writer is the Chairman of Jatiya Party and Leader of Opposition in Parliament

Link: https://www.daily-sun.com/post/741458