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Khulna city polls: Concern over fair elections as allegations of flouting rules found against candidates

  • Published at 09:11 am April 23rd, 2018
Khulna city polls: Concern over fair elections as allegations of flouting rules found against candidates
The Election Commission and candidates have expressed concern over free and fair elections to Khulna City Corporation following allegations of breach of code of conduct against many contestants. The commission asked candidates to remove campaign materials by April 8 after the announcement of schedule. But the campaign materials are still visible in different parts of the city. The commission vowed stringent measures against the violators but no action was taken yet. Mayoral and councilor candidates have already started campaigns before the allotment of electoral symbols, which is also a violation of code of conduct. Awami League and BNP mayoral candidates have already accused each other of breaching code of conduct. Following that show cause letters were sent to the candidates asking them to explain their reported violations. The two candidates also brought allegations against each other of concealing information in the affidavits, and the allegations were dismissed following a hearing. Councillor candidate Md Ziaul Islam Montu said: “If the elections are free and fair I would not feel sad even if I am defeated. The administration needs to be tough against those trying to snatch ballots during vote. Another councillor candidate Shahji Kamal Tipu said he is worried whether voters will be able to cast ballots properly. “I hope election officials and others will play a neutral role in this regard.” Returning Officer Md Younus Ali said: “The incidents of breaching code of conduct are embarrassing. We have taken moves to set up mobile courts to monitor their activities. “The commission will not allow any attempts that raise questions about the acceptability of the polls,” he said. Khulna Metropolitan Police Commissioner Md Humayun Kabir said they had asked candidates on loudspeakers to remove campaign materials following orders from the administration. “But the candidates did not comply with the order. Had there been provisions for punishment they would have removed the materials. Following the drives by the mobile court, campaign materials have already been removed,” he said. Monday is the deadline for withdrawing nominations. The candidates will be allotted symbols on Tuesday. After that the candidates will begin their formal campaigns. Election to councillor posts is not being held under symbols of any political affiliation, but most candidates are contesting after being nominated by their respective parties. Meanwhile, top brass of major parties like Awami League and BNP have asked candidates who were denied party nomination to withdraw their candidacies or face tough action. According to Section 5 of the code of conduct, candidates or their parties, any individual or organization on their behalf, cannot begin campaigning before the electoral symbols are allotted. However, candidates can begin campaigning after allotment of symbols, as per the code of conduct of city corporation polls. They will also be allowed to use loudspeakers from 2pm to 8pm every day, but they have to take permission from the returning officer. They will be allowed to hold street rallies, instead of public rallies. According to electoral code of conduct, a candidate cannot use more than one public announcement system, said Khulna Additional Regional Election Officer Md Monir Hossain. The candidates should send the address of their election office and contact numbers of their chief agents to the returning officer by April 24. The size of the poster should be 18inches by 23 inches. A candidate can only use their picture and electoral symbol in the poster. The posters cannot be pasted on walls, according to electoral code of conduct.  
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