BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Sunday alleged the results of the elections to two Dhaka city corporations were announced as per the “government’s desire through a media coup”.
Speaking at a press conference at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office, he also alleged that the Election Commission (EC) has snatched the city dwellers’ voting rights by holding the elections with electronic voting machines (EVMs).
“The government has invented a new strategy of rigging vote silently through EVMs. The results of the city polls were announced as per their (govt’s) desire through using their new weapon - EVMs,” the BNP leader said.
He further said, “The announcement of the polls’ results was almost stopped after 7:30-8pm yesterday (Saturday). We can call it a kind of media coup that exactly happened. They themselves just made the election results.”
Fakhrul said the election results were fabricated and those were later announced through the media. “These results in no way are acceptable and we turn down the results.”
He alleged that many voters could not cast their votes because of faulty EVMs. “The Election Commission has now become a party to snatch people’s voting rights.”
The BNP leader warned that the current EC will have to be accountable to people someday for depriving people of their voting rights.
Replying to a question, he said the presence of voters at polling stations was very thin as people have no confidence in EVMs and the Election Commission. “People have no confidence in any polls arranged under Awami League and the current EC.”
Fakhrul said the government staged a showdown to rig votes in a new style by holding the city polls with EVMs. “They’ll now apply this strategy of indulging in vote robbery through EVMs in the days to come as the Prime Minister has said they would hold the polls through the machine gradually.”
He said it is the jurisdiction of the EC to determine the voting system. “But it’s unfortunate that the Prime Minister is determining it with which the Election Commission will conduct voting.”
After observing a day-long hartal, BNP on Sunday announced to stage demonstrations in the city on Tuesday demanding cancellation of the results of elections to Dhaka south and north city corporations.
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir announced the fresh programme at a press conference at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office.
He said their party will stage demonstrations in all thanas of the capital on Tuesday.
The BNP leader said their programme is also meant for pushing their demand for the ‘restoration’ of democracy and for the release of their party Chairperson Khaleda Zia.
Besides, Fakhrul said, their party’s two mayoral candidates--Tabith Awal and Ishraque Hossain-- will hold separate press conferences on Tuesday to disclose various ‘vote frauds’ with documents.
He claimed that people made their party’s hartal programme a success with their spontaneous support.
The BNP leader also thanked people to support their hartal programme announced within a short time.
He claimed that their party leaders and activists observed the hartal programme at different wards of the city while police arrested at least four of them.
Meanwhile, the dawn-to-dusk hartal (shutdown) enforced by BNP from 6am today in the capital was observed peacefully with a lukewarm public response.
Mirza Fakhrul called for the shutdown on Saturday evening, reviving the ‘hartal culture’ in Bangladeshi politics. “We completely reject the election results … [and] call hartal for tomorrow (Sunday) … from 6am to 6pm in Dhaka city,” he said.
Jatiya Oikyafront, led by Dr Kamal Hossain, extended its support to the BNP programme.
Awami League mayoral candidates Atiqul Islam and Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh won the mayoral race of Dhaka North City Corporation and Dhaka South City Corporation in Saturday’s election.
Rejecting the results of the elections to the two Dhaka city corporations, BNP has called a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Dhaka for Sunday protesting ‘massive vote frauds.’
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir made the announcement at a press conference at the party’s Nayapaltan central office on Saturday evening.
With Fakhrul’s such announcement, the hartal culture in Bangladesh is going to stage a comeback after nearly five years since April 5, 2015.
“We completely turn down the election results. The election results were robbed of influencing the election process. To register our protest against it, we call hartal for tomorrow (Sunday). This hartal will be observed from 6am to 6pm in Dhaka city,” he said.
The BNP leader said their hartal his also meant for registering their party’s protest against the ‘massive vote rigging and frauds and stampeding the people’s verdict by force.
He hoped that the city dwellers will observe the hartal peacefully and thus cooperate with their party to ‘restore’ democracy.
Fakhrul said ambulances; hearse, medicine and food shops will remain out of purview of the hartal.
He said the election results of the two city polls reflected the government’s announcement, proving BNP’s fear about the credible election true. “The government controlled the election using the state machinery and the Election Commission as they did during the previous polls.”
Fakhrul said the government has destroyed all the democratic institutions with an aim to establish a one-party rule. “The election process has been destroyed while the Election Commission is being used as a weapon of the government. We think it’s never possible to hold a fair election under Awami League.
BNP standing committee members Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Moudud Ahmed, Mirza Abbas, Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan, Nazrul Islam Khan, Selima Rahman and Iqbal Hasn Mahmud Tuku were, among others, present.
Meanwhile, Awami League mayoral candidates took lead in both Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) in the counting of votes in the elections to the two city cities on Saturday.
Also read: AL widens lead in DNCC, DSCC vote counting
According to unofficial results, AL mayoral runner Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh got 278,193 votes while BNP’s Ishraque Hossain polled 142,975 in 713 centres out of total 1,150 in DSCC.
Earlier, balloting in the DNCC and DSCC elections ended at 4pm amid ‘low voter turnout’ and reports of sporadic violence and allegations of BNP agents being driven out of polling stations.
BNP last announced countrywide nonstop blockade on January 5, 2015 and it continued until April 4, leaving at least 120 people, including policemen dead, mostly in firebomb attacks.
BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia announced the programme as police barred her from coming out of her Gulshan office to join an anti-government rally over the first anniversary of 10th parliamentary election.
The BNP chief stayed her Gulshan office since April 4 that year as the blockade programme was on.
Amid the blockade, the party and the 20-party alliance also enforced hartals in different phases. They called a 45-hour hartal on March 30 for the last time demanding ‘restoration’ of democracy and people’s voting right.
She, however, returned to her Gulshan residence from her office signaling that the blockade was withdrawn.
The party never withdrew the blockade programme officially.
BNP also never convened hartal or blockade programme after its negative experience during the nearly three-month blockade programme. The party also did not call hartal when Khaleda was sent jail on February 8, 2018 as she was convicted in Zia Orphanage trust graft case.
All polling agents of BNP were drive out of three voting centres inside Dhaka University area on Saturday morning, alleged the university’s Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) unit.
“DU white panel teachers' convener Prof ABM Obaidul Islam informed us that all 12 agents of BNP were drive out of Curzon Hall, Udayan School and University Laboratory School and College centres around 8:15am,” said convener of JCD’s DU unit Rakibul Islam.
They were drive out by the activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), he alleged.
However, Prof ABM Obaidul Islam managed to allow three BNP agents in the polling centres around 9am, Rakibul said.
Voting in Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) began from 8am and will continue until 4pm without any break to elect mayors and councillors.
BNP’s DSCC and DNCC mayoral candidates have already raised allegations that a number of the party’s agents had been driven out of polling centres.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Friday alleged that Prime Minister's ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy’s opinion poll on the elections to the two city corporations has influenced the entire polls.
He came up with the remarks while talking to reporters at BNP’s South City Corporation polls mayoral candidate Ishraque Hossain’s Gopibagh residence.
“The Prime Minister’s ICT Adviser on Thursday said their two mayoral candidates will win the polls...he had also made a prediction about the last national election results on December 28. Usually, astrologers make such predictions,” the BNP leader said.
He further said, “We think his predictions before the voting are influencing the entire polls. When a top leader of the ruling party or a top official make such a statement on the local body polls it definitely influences the entire election system and create pressure on those involved with conducting voting.”
The BNP leader said the Prime Minister should now appoint Joy as the 'Royal Astrologer'.
On Thursday, Joy predicted landslide victories for Awami League in the elections to the two city corporations scheduled to be held on Saturday (Feb 1) as he quotes an opinion poll.
“The polling was conducted by a mock ballot, so that neither the enumerator nor we know who voted for whom,” he wrote in a post shared on his verified Facebook page on Thursday.
He said they have found this to be the most accurate method of polling. "People are not afraid to select any candidate. Those who still don't choose are the ones unlikely to vote since no election has 100% turnout. The margin of error is +/- 3%."
Fakhrul went to Ishraque’s residence in the afternoon and discussed election-related issues and gave him necessary instructions.
Later, he also told reporters that the remarks of the government officials and the ruling party leaders give an impression that the government is trying to control the election. “The ruling party general secretary said they’ll guard and control every polling station.”
Even after that, the BNP leader said they believe their party mayoral candidates in Dhaka south and north city corporations will come out successful if people get the minimum chance to cast their votes.
Asked what their party may do if attempts are made to occupy voting centres, he said people will put up a resistance against it and exercise their voting rights.
Ishraque said they will definitely resist together with people if any one tries to capture polling stations.
Earlier, Fakhrul had a meeting with their party’s mayoral candidate for Dhaka North City Corporations Tabith Awal at BNP chairperson’s Gulshan office.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, he said the Election Commission has failed to ensure a congenial atmosphere for credible voting.
“Our statement is clear that the election will have to be held in a fair and credible manner. It’s the Election Commission’s responsibility to take proper steps so that voters can freely exercise their right to franchise,” Fakhrul added.
He, however, regretted that the EC has no capability to ensure fair voting. “The Election Commission still couldn’t prove its competence.”