BNP has just managed to avoid a shameful state in the fourth phase of municipal polls held on Sunday.
The party succeeded winning only one mayoral post, Md Taskin Ahmed in Satkhira Municipality, while AL candidates won in 88% municipalities for the first time.
In this phase, 46 AL-backed mayoral candidates managed victory while independent candidates, all AL rebels, became mayor in five municipalities.
According to the election commission (EC), around 65.68% votes were cast in this phase. A number of 9,55,240 voters, out of 14,54,480, cast their ballots in 55 municipalities of 34 districts.
The highest turnout was 92.60% in Banaripara of Barisal, though the BNP and independent mayoral candidates had boycotted the polls in the morning alleging arbitrary detention of party leaders and activists besides being beaten.
The lowest turnout was 47.06% in Patia of Chittagong, where one was shot dead. The deceased – identified as Abdul Mabud (45) and brother of councillor candidate Abdul Mannan – died at a hospital after getting shot during a clash that took place in ward 8 of the municipality.
Besides, widespread allegations of violence and vote stuffing have been raised centring this phase of polls, making it a controversial election like the previous phases.
In the violence, a young man named Mohan got shot in a clash between supporters of two mayoral candidates at Sonaimuri upazila of Noakhali. Four people were also injured there.
In Rajshahi, a crude bomb exploded outside a poll centre in Naihati municipality of the district. Miscreants also vandalised the car of a mayoral candidate, and a journalist was injured.
Fifteen people were injured in a clash between supporters of two rival candidates of Lalmonirhat and Patgram municipalities, while four were severely injured at Kalihati upazila in Tangail.
Following violence, voting was stopped in one center at Sonaimuri of Noakhali in addition to the two centres at Damudya in Shariatpur. Besides, for irregularities, voting was stopped at four centres in Narsingdi.
Observing that violence has now become a part of the election, EC Mahbub Talukder said, "I fear violence will take place in the upazila parishad elections as well. We need to find out why our initiatives are not working for a fair election."
"At present the election is becoming one-sided. Unilateral and controversial elections cannot be an element of democracy...if elections are not participatory and universally acceptable, democracy cannot flourish in its full glory.
"Democracy has to be observed and preserved through strict observance of election law and code of conduct.
"The election system is now on the edge of a deep abyss due to lack of proper reform of the electoral process. However, reform does not depend on the election commission; it also depends on the coming to terms of political parties and all concerned.
"We express satisfaction after almost all the elections, saying polls were free, fair and peaceful. But in almost all the cases, this does not match with the people's perception," the EC added.
Replying to a query, he said I am ready to resign if that brings betterment for the country.
Earlier, in the three phases of municipal election, AL got 109, BNP 9 and the independent candidates won in 25 and 2 from other parties. The turnout was 65% in the first phase election, 72% in the second and 70.42% in the third phase of municipal election.
Meanwhile, the fifth phase election is scheduled on February 28 in 31 municipalities.