Terming the Saturday’s Dhaka city corporations’ elections as more peaceful than ever, Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud on Sunday said the elections were held in a festive mood and hassle-free.
“The Saturday’s Dhaka city polls were held without any big trouble, there was neither any incident of capturing centers nor killings . . . it (polls) was far better in the history of any local government elections of the country and Dhaka city as well,” he told reporters.
The minister came up with the observations at a press conference at the meeting room of his secretariat office in the capital.
Hasan said Dhaka city wore a festive look during the electoral campaign.
“The voters were also exercising their franchise in a festive mood. The polls were held successfully signaling a good omen. I would like to extend my thanks to the city dwellers, electorates, the Election Commission and all other concerned,” he added.
Hasan said the voters’ turnout was around 30 percent. “In our country, about 99.98 percent people have become voters. But, in the USA, only 60 percent people become voters among all eligible voters. Of them, 40 to 50 percent people cast their votes. In that perspective, the voters’ turnout in the Dhaka city polls was better,” he added.
Moreover, the minister said many voters went on vacation as they got two days holidays. This is also another reason for low turnout in the polls, he added.
Besides, he said, BNP leaders were saying that they took part in the polls as part of movement. “The voters became frustrated as they (BNP) were not in the election race for winning,” said Hasan, also Awami League joint general secretary.
The minister said, “BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir stated we were in the field and this was our success”
“Their (BNP) aim was not to win in the polls. They were busy with making allegations and the polls questionable from the very beginning,” he added.
Hasan said “There were around 2500 voting centers and about 13,000 puling booths. No big trouble took place and the voting was held peacefully,” he added.
About allegations that there were only AL activists outside the voting centers, he said “This is a tradition of the country that all political parties set up camps outside the polling centers. Awami League also set up camps maintaining code of conduct of the EC. But BNP didn’t set up their camps in front of poling centers. This is their (BNP) organizational weakness,” he added.
The minister said BNP is not in favour of using Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the city polls as they are basically opposed to technology.
“BNP has always been against technology. You all know that how Begum Khaleda Zia turned down the offer of connecting Bangladesh to the submarine cable free of cost fearing information will be stolen from the country. BNP’s stand against the use of EVM follows their skeptical attitude towards technology,” he added.
The main thing is that they are out to make the election process questionable, he said.
About BNP’s hartal, Hasan said the traditional Ekushey book fair is beginning today.
“Today there were traffic jams in the city and people were found busy with their works. The city dwellers rejected their hartal call”, he added.
Replying to a query on the injury of a journalist in Mohammadpur area, the minister said, “It is unexpected and regrettable and we don’t endorse such happening incident. I hope the Election Commission and the law enforcers will take necessary steps in this regard.”