No level playing field inside EC: Mahbub

Senior election commissioner Mahbub Talukder on Sunday observed that there is no level playing field inside Election Commission (EC) itself. “Scope for expressing my own opinion has been narrowed down hugely,” he said. He made the observation while presenting a written speech to journalists at his office at EC Bhaban of Agargaon in the capital.

In a written statement, he said, “This is not the way the Election Commission is required to perform this election. Since the announcement of the schedule of the election, none of the three commission meetings held till date have had any discussion about the conduct, irregularities or complaints of the candidates in the Dhaka City Corporation elections, and no issues have been on the agenda at any commission meeting.”

Mahbub Talukder said that the election commission meeting which is going to be held on January 28, has no agenda on the Dhaka City Corporation elections. ‘Regrettably, all the 4 EU notes I gave on January 9, 13, 16 and 20 on the Dhaka City Corporation elections were traditionally ignored and were not implemented. There was no discussion or necessary action taken on the contents. Even if my statement was unacceptable, it needed to be said.”

“With the EU note issued on January 16, I was asked by the senior secretaries of the Commission Secretariat and two returning officers of the Dhaka North and South City Corporation to inform them about the various complaints. What visible action has been taken on these allegations? My instructions were ignored. No information was provided to me.”

He said that there were no signs of any kind of discussion and decision-making in the commission on the allegations filed or sent by the political party or candidate about the upcoming city corporation election. If the dissatisfaction behind these allegations erupts, the city corporation election will not be held properly, which is not desirable in any way. The Election Commission will have to bear this responsibility.

“My proposal or recommendation at the Election Commission meeting was ignored because of the majority. I consider it important to consider the merit of the content of my speech, not viewing it as a minority. I think the place of my speech at the Commission meeting has narrowed. There is no level playing field within the Election Commission. We want to protect the independence and dignity of the Election Commission. It is recommended to be visible in our activities,” he added.

Responding to the question of whether he was going to take a decision (resignation) as the place of his speech was narrowed down, he said that only time will tell what will happen. Responding to a question on what he would say from within the government, he said that one of the parties sat down to serve and demanded that you should resign. He said, “Anyone could say anything but those who know my past history will never say - I belong to a particular group. And from the moment I sat on this chair, I have not been with any party. I have no doctrine. I am guided by my conscience. It can be a political thing for those who want to paint me in a negative light.