Staff Correspondent: Former caretaker government adviser Hafizuddin Khan said the Election Commission (EC) has constitutional right to arrange a participatory and neutral election. But the commission could yet not take necessary steps for a free and fair election.
He came up with the observation while speaking at a roundtable discussion held at the VIP lounge of the capital's National Press Club on Saturday.
The programme titled 'Participatory Election and Democracy of Bangladesh' was organised by the Dhaka Forum.
Hafizuddin Khan said, "The basic steps needed for holding a free and fair election have yet not been taken. We could not see activities of EC in this regard."
"We suggested EC many things in dialogue, but we could not find any benefit. It's constitutional duty for EC to hold a fair election. The commission can give suggestion to the government, if it is needed to change any law for this. We want this from them. It should not be that one party will campaign for election and another will be confined," he added.
Former governor of Bangladesh Bank (BB) Salehuddin Ahmed said, "People will suffer if democracy and rule of law are not established in the country."
"Alongside, the government has lack of sincerity to bring people involved in loan defaulting and question paper leakage under justice," he added.
Former caretaker government adviser Barrister Moinul Hosein said, "It is a big failure that people cannot exercise their franchises despite existence of a government on the power. We want such a system which will form a parliament for people. But the current parliament is not elected by people's votes."
Founder of the Gonoshasthaya Kendra Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury said, "Our first obstacle is India while the second one is the country's education system. Oppositions came to the power in all elections held under neutral government in the country. I mentioned India here because the neighbouring country does not want that Bangladesh exercises fair democracy."
BNP Standing Committee Member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury said, "At this moment, there is no expectation to the Election Commission (EC). No sign of holding fair election is not been found yet."
"The ruling party men are campaigning for election with the state money. Has EC warned them in this regard? Why they (EC) are silent? What is their role? We cannot believe that they will take any step against them," he added.
Jahangirnagar University (JU) Professor Dilara Chowdhury, former state minister for foreign affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury and former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder, among others, spoke in the roundtable discussion.
risingbd/Dhaka/February 24, 2018/Mehade/A K Azad