Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda has accused Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukder of tarnishing the image of the commission by questioning its ability to ensure free and fair polls.
He made the statement at a programme organised by the Election Commission (EC) at the EC Bhaban in the capital on Tuesday marking the National Voter Day.
Earlier at the programme, Mahbub said elections had become a model of violence, clash, vote rigging and Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) vandalism.
These are called isolated incidents but a combination of numerous such incidents has become part of elections, he said.
After Mahbub read out the written statement, the CEC said, "Mahbub is doing everything to humiliate the EC due to his personal interest and motive."
"From the very first day Mahbub joined the commission, he has been seen taking a piece of paper out of his pocket and reading out all the negative aspects of the commission. Today is no exception either."
Huda continued, "Mahbub does not work in the interest of the commission. He has done as much as he needs to discredit the commission for his own interest to achieve a purpose."
The heated exchange of words came just two days after the fifth phase of the municipal polls ended. All five phases of the polls had been marred by violence and irregularities.
Mahbub also told the programme a level playing field needed to be maintained for a multi-party democracy was absent in the local government elections.
He said single-party elections had lost importance and getting nominations had now become vital.
"Election is the only path towards democracy. If an election is not held in a free, fair, participatory, and acceptable manner, power cannot be transferred smoothly. This will create social unrest and frustration, which is not desirable for any democratic country," Mahbub said.
He also said the EC had been given the constitutional duty to make sure that democratic rights were maintained.
"If the electoral process is not reformed, the quality of elections that are taking place now is likely to fall further."
Speaking about voter turnout, Mahbub said, "I am interested in using the EVM to cast my vote for two reasons. Firstly, the system will prevent vote casting the night before elections. Secondly, it will not show that 100% of votes have been cast in different centres."
The CEC was the chief guest at the programme while Mahbub was the special guest. Other election commissioners and EC officials also attended it.
Director General of the NID wing AKM Humayun Kabir at the programme urged people to become voters once they turn 18 and cast their votes. He also revealed the latest data on voter numbers.
"Currently, the number of voters in the country is 11.17 crore. Of them, 50.66% are males, 49.33% are females, and 441 are transgender people," he said.