The Bangladesh Upazila Parishad Association alleged that elected public representatives are gradually losing their glory due to the negative attitudes of some public employees.
At a press briefing at the Dhaka Reporters Unity Sunday, the platform for upazila chairmen, vice-chairmen and women vice-chairmen claimed this neglect is a tactic being deployed to take over the public administration at the expense of local representatives.
President of Bangladesh Upazila Parishad Association, Harun-or-Rashid Hawlader said they demand the power, duties and responsibilities as stated in the Local Government Act. "We want the jurisdiction over 17 departments as stipulated in the act," he added.
Referring to the constitution, he said democratic governance at the grassroots comprised of elected representatives and administrative officials.
"The elected upazila parishads are key components of public administration. However, due to the negative attitudes harboured by some administrative officials, the elected representatives are gradually losing face, and are being deprived of their roles and responsibilities as well. It seems there is a systematic campaign underway to wrest control of the public administration by excluding the public representatives," he added.
Harun-or-Rashid Hawlader said even though they represent the people, these public representatives are no longer tasked with evaluating any public work.
"The upazila nirbahi officers (UNOs) are being tasked by several ministries to do the jobs we're meant to do," he alleged.
They put forward several demands from the press conference, including re-energising the 17 local-level committees headed by the vice-chairmen to execute upazila parishad tasks, and using the address of "upazila parishad" (instead of "upazila administration") on government correspondence.
It was announced during the press conference that discussions will be held on 22 February simultaneously in all districts to materialise these demands.
Saiful Islam Khan Biru, general secretary of Bangladesh Upazila Parishad Association, said their movement is not against any official; all they want is compliance with the constitutional guidelines.
Chairmen and vice-chairmen of different upazilas were present at the press conference.