'In 2010 the Election Commission bought an EVM for Tk10,000. Now, it is going to buy the same machine for Tk2.05 lakh, which is more than 20 times the actual cost'
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has called for installing closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at 44,000 polling centres during the 11th national election instead of using electronic voting machines (EVMs).
Fakhrul, on Thursday morning at a press conference held at the BNP chairperson’s office in Dhaka’s Gulshan, suggested using the allotted Tk4,000 crore to install CCTVs instead of EVMs.
He said: “The initiative to amend the Representation of the People Order (RPO) in a hurry, by the government and its obedient Election Commission, is just a political ploy to use EVMs, avoiding the opinions of most of the political parties, civil society, election and IT experts.”
“BNP is completely against the commission’s plan to use EVMs,” he said.
Fakhrul also said: “Why is the commission suddenly purchasing EVMs? They are controversial and abandoned across the world. Are they working in favour of any particular party?
“The commission officials will be held accountable for the money spent for EVMs and any misdeeds that follow.”
Urging the dismissal of the initiative for EVM usage, Fakhrul said: “Do not make the public mistrust of the Election Commission worse. Come away from the path of digital anomalies. Otherwise you have to pay for this misdeed as conspirators.”
The BNP secretary general also said: “In 2010 the Election Commission bought an EVM for Tk10,000. Now, it is going to buy the same machine for Tk2.05 lakh, which is more than 20 times the actual cost.
“Is it not another initiative to loot public money? This is mainly an initiative of an ill-motivated partnership between the government and the Election Commission.”
Raising questions about the role of the Election Commission, Fakhrul also said: “We cannot understand whether the Election Commission exists or not. Election Commission Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed mostly briefs the press, and he is also a corrupt official.
“Provide the necessary training for election commission officials to build their capacity. Initiate honorariums and risk allowances for election related officials during poll time,” he added.
When asked whether EVMs were proposed to suppress BNP’s existing issues, including the release of its Chairperson Khaleda Zia, Fakhrul said: “I will not say this. An election will be held in the future.
“It is not a material issue whether we receive this or not, according to the present constitution. But EVM usage is not favoured by the public.”
He said further: “The government is losing the trust of the people and now they are placing their trust on EVMs as a plan to illegally come to power again.”
Earlier at a press meet on Wednesday, leaders from the Left Democratic Alliance (LDA), which includes the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), the Bangladesh Workers' Party, and Gonosanghati Andalon, also opposed the use of EVMs.
CPB President Mujahidul Islam Selim said the government was directing the Election Commission to use EVMs so that it could “manipulate” the election results.
He urged the government to drop the plan as the EVMs were not acceptable and transparent enough to many political parties.