The Election Commission yet again seems to have failed to recover its lost image. A failure to conduct flawless elections, opposition boycotts, violence and deaths have marred the municipal elections held so far in five of the six phases of the polls.
Alleging that the EC failed to conduct free and fair polls, the BNP on Sunday decided not to take part in the upcoming union parishad elections anymore under the party banner.
The municipal polls in the five phases witnessed a series of clashes that resulted in the deaths of at least 5 people and injuries to many others across the country.
In Sunday's fifth phase election, one person was killed in a clash and at least 12 people were injured in different places.
However, EC Secretary Humayun Kabir Khandaker, said, "We think the municipal elections were held in a free, fair and festive atmosphere."
Former Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) M Sakhawat Hossain said there were a number of allegations but the EC had not taken proper action in this regard. Therefore, the EC's claim of the elections having been fair was only normal on its part.
However, if the opposition candidates thought that the elections were not conducted as per rules, they could go to court.
About the BNP's decision not to take part in the union parishad election, he said it was the party's internal issue and a political matter.
He added, though, that if a party did not participate in an election over a lack of confidence in the process, it reflected a failure on the part of the EC.
In the municipal polls, the BNP bagged only a mayoral post while the Awami League clinched victories in 28 municipalities. Besides, two independent mayoral candidates emerged victorious in the contests.
The lone BNP candidate to win was Md Rezaul Karim Badsha from Bogura municipality. Bogura is considered a BNP stronghold.
With this, in the entire five phases of polls in 233 municipalities, BNP-nominated candidates have won in only 11 municipalities while ruling party candidates registered victory in 183 municipalities.
Besides, two candidates from other parties won mayoral races. Some 32 independent candidates, most of whom were AL rebel candidates, were elected.
In the fifth phase of the polls, the total voter turnout was 58.67%. The lowest voter turnout was 43.76% in Raipur municipality of Laxmipur, where AL mayoral candidate Md Gias Uddin Rubel won the race. His nearest rival was BNP-nominated candidate ABM Jilani.
Jilani in the first-half of the voting alleged that his agents had been evicted from the polling centres and party activists had been threatened. Later, he boycotted the elections, raising allegations of ballot stuffing against his rival.
The highest voter turnout was 81.54% in Nachole municipality in Chapainawabganj. In that municipality, AL mayoral candidate Abdur Rahid won the polls, his nearest rival being independent candidate Rezaul Karim Babu.