The Election Commission (EC) has failed in conducting the Cumilla City Corporation election properly, BNP reserve seat MP Rumeen Farhana told the Parliament.
"They [EC] could not handle the threat of one MP, how would they handle 300 sitting MPs in the national election? A fair election will not be possible under this Commission," she said while addressing a general discussion on the proposed budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year in the Jatiya Sangsad on Thursday.
The BNP leader made the remarks referring to the incident where the EC sent a letter to Awami League MP of Cumilla-6 constituency AKM Bahauddin Bahar, before the city polls, to leave the constituency for allegedly violating the electoral code of conduct by campaigning for his party-backed candidate.
When Bahauddin slammed the EC for the letter, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal in a toned-down reply said, "The lawmaker was not ordered but requested to leave Cumilla ahead of the city corporation polls."
"Showing the local government elections fair before the national elections is an old trick of the government's playbook. I have seen this drama in 2014 and 2018," Rumeen said, adding that the EC's kneeling position clearly shows that the forthcoming national elections will not be a free and fair one.
Mentioning the alleged "vote robber" in the secret room of the polling station, she said, "Party cadres are not the only vote robbers, but police and administration are also involved in this robbery."
In the general discussion, Jatiya Party MP Kazi Firoz Rashid said, "It is impossible to thwart those who have more power and strength during an election."
"Voting gets rigged automatically when the opposition lacks equal ground. No one wants to lose an election. So the election then becomes a battlefield where everyone wants to win by any means possible."
On the issue of bringing the BNP to the election, Law Minister Anisul Huq said, "Do they [BNP] live in Pakistan? Do they have to be brought to the polls from there? They can take part in the election if they want."
Regarding the demand of the BNP MPs for a neutral polls-time government, the law minister said, "I want to say unequivocally that this government will not go beyond the verdict of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. Because we believe in the law."
Earlier on Wednesday, Rumeen Farhana told the Parliament that the current budget session did not discuss the budget but the Padma Bridge, Khaleda Zia and the BNP.
Responding to her statement, Law Minister Anisul Huq on Thursday said, "We will not talk about the Padma Bridge, then what will we talk about? Shall we talk about her (Rumeen Farhana) clothes? I will not do that."
Rumeen Farhana countered the law minister's statement by saying, "The biggest fallacy of logic is to make personal attacks in absence of reasoning. Having no reply to my argument, he made a rude remark about attires in the end, which we do not expect from the law minister."
"The prime minister is a woman, and the Speaker of the Jatiya Sangsad is a woman as well. So when such words come from the law minister, it is a disgrace for the entire Parliament," she added.