The meeting between the prime minister and retired military officials breached the electoral code, says the BNP leader
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is obstructing the creation of a level playing field ahead of the 11th parliamentary polls by violating the electoral code of conduct, BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi has alleged.
“Over 150 retired military officers met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Ganabhaban on Tuesday and promised to work for ensuring Awami League’s victory in the election. Isn’t their commitment to help Awami League is a violation of the code of conduct?” he asked on Friday.
Addressing a press briefing at BNP’s Naya Paltan headquarters, Rizvi said that the prime minister’s campaigning activities using Ganabhaban, while enjoying all state-sponsored facilities, were making the upcoming 11th general election controversial
More than 150 retired officers of army, navy and air force last Tuesday had met Hasina at her official residence in Dhaka.
In presence of her, they had expressed solidarity with Awami League and pledged to work for the party’s victory in the polls.
Referring to that meeting, Rizvi said: "The prime minister is a very important person, and Article 14 of the electoral code of conduct states that such important person of the government cannot hold any electoral programs or activities.”
He claimed that the prime minister’s such “illegal” activities was proof that the government was again moving on to hold a unilateral and voter-less election on December 30.
However, Election Commissioner Rafiqul Islam on Friday also said that he does not believe the prime minister breached the code of conduct by meeting with the military officials as the program had nothing to do with the Awami League’s election campaign.
“Personally I don’t think it is a violation of the election code. She [Sheikh Hasina] is the prime minister, and Ganabhaban is her residence, where else she would meet people if not at her own place?”
Although, admitting that a campaign program inside an official establishment is frowned upon, Rafiqul further said: “We would have taken action if this was an election campaign event held inside the Bangabhaban or Ganabhaban.”
Senior BNP leader Rizvi also alleged that, at Ganabhaban, the prime minister took interviews of Awami League’s nomination seekers, held a meeting with returning officers, and worked out plans with ministers and MPs to ensure her party’s victory in a “lopsided election.”
He said the Election Commission did not take any action against the prime minister, even after BNP lodged written complaints about the code violations.