The Election Commission on Tuesday announced that it plans to use 150,000 EVMs at the polling centres in one-third of the country’s 300 constituencies
BNP and the left-leaning political parties are against the Election Commission’s plan to use the EVMs in the 11th parliamentary polls, alleging that the machines would be used for vote-rigging and to ensure the ruling party’s victory.
The reaction came after the commission announced on Tuesday that the election would be held in the last week of December, and that it was planning to use 150,000 EVMs at the polling centres in one-third of the country’s 300 constituencies, following amendments to the Representation of the People Order (RPO).
The Awami League has taken a neutral stance, leaving the matter of using EVMs on the Election Commission.
Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader on Wednesday said the commission would decide accordingly if it finds impossible to buy the necessary EVMs and use them in the next polls.
Addressing a meeting at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh in Dhaka, Obaidul said that EVMs were not a new demand from Awami League, adding that developed countries around the world as well as India also use EVMs during their elections as it was a latest technology, reports UNB.
He wondered why the opposition parties were afraid of EVMs since Awami League had lost in the Sylhet city polls where these machines were used for the first time.
Awami League would support the Election Commission to conduct a peaceful, free and fair election this December, he said.
BNP wants RPO reform, EVM plan dropped
Meanwhile, a major but out-of-parliament party in the country’s political arena, BNP on Wednesday urged the Election Commission to rescind its plan to amend the RPO and use of EVMs in the next polls.
"We would like to clearly say that we will not accept the use of EVMs in the 11th parliamentary elections. We call upon the Election Commission to refrain from its evil efforts to use the EVMs and amend the RPO," the party’s Standing Committee Member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said at a discussion in the city.
He also warned that the commission would be held accountable to the people if it does not back off from these plans.
Mosharraf alleged that the government was backing the “evil plan” to use the EVMs in 100 constituencies to rig votes and remain in power by winning the polls illegitimately.
He also wondered why the sudden EVM move was taken when most of the political parties during their talks with the commission opposed its use in the elections.
Earlier in the day, at a press conference at their Naya Paltan headquarters, BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi also vehemently opposed the commission’s plan.
Left parties demand non-political polls-time govt
On Wednesday, the Left Democratic Alliance (LDA) also said that the Election Commission must ditch its plan to use the EVMs in the national polls.
Leaders from LDA – which includes the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), Bangladesh Workers' Party and Gonosanghati Andalon - also demanded the formation of a non-political election-time government at a press conference held at the Mukti Bhaban in Dhaka.
"We want a free and fair election under a neutral polls-time caretaker government as the country's history says that elections held by a political administration were never free and fair," CPB President Mujahidul Islam Selim said.
The LDA leaders also demanded the dissolution of the incumbent government and the parliament and reconstruction of the Election Commission before the announcement of the election schedule.
Selim claimed the government was directing the commission to use the EVMs so that it could “manipulate” the election results.
He urged the government to drop the plan as the EVMs were not transparent enough and acceptable to many political parties.