The biggest election in the local government system is the union council election. It is not possible to hold the election in one day across the country. That is why the Election Commission conducts this election in 3-4 steps. The two stages of this election have already ended. Elections will be held in 1,006 Union Parishads on November 26 in the third phase. Even then the election will not end. There is a need for the fourth step. It will be held on the 23rd of December. 640 UP elections are to be held on that day. In the meantime, a total of 1,052 Union Parishad elections have been held with 204 in the first phase and 746 in the second phase. However, the experience of this election does not seem to be pleasant for any party. Although a large number of people voted in the election, everything has been reduced to violence, conflicts, clashes, fights and violence. A total of 30 people were killed and hundreds were injured. The level of domestic and firearms use among supporters of candidates before the election has broken past records. That is why the fear of duel, conflict and violence has increased with the election of the remaining two stages. In the second round, fears of casualties, clashes, violence and the intensification of power struggles have raised concerns in all quarters about how conflicting the local government election environment has become. Various issues of the elections held in the media are being discussed. The BNP did not participate in this election as a party. However, in a limited number of Union Councils, he has run as an independent candidate for chairman and membership. In most cases, elections were held between Awami League nominees and rebel candidates. As a result, there have been clashes between the Awami League candidates and their supporters. For this reason, the name of Awami League as a party has been mentioned along with the centers where casualties and clashes have taken place in the UP elections. The statements made by the central leaders of the Awami League in the media on the issue did not deter any of the Awami League nominees or rebel or independent candidates in the elections from doing so. Conflicts therefore could not be avoided. That is why the tone of despair has been heard in the statements of the Awami League leaders about the environment of the UP election this time. Meanwhile, the media has reported evidence of a change in the previous policy on the collection of forms in the third round of elections, saying that the next two rounds of elections may not have the same party nominations as before, anyone can compete. If such a change has taken place in the middle of the election, then why it has not been done before – this question can be asked naturally. We will have to wait till November 26 and December 23 to see how much assurance will be given that there will be no clashes and violence in the UP elections as soon as the rivalry is made open to all. If the next two rounds of elections are free of violence due to open competition, then things are going to be the same. Again, if it is not possible to avoid or prevent conflict, then it seems necessary to think deeply about the issue.
It is said that the image of the party has been lost as a result of giving the party symbol in the post of chairman of the UP election. Some also claim that those who used to contest for the post of UP chairman and member were known locally and respected by the people. This is a relative statement. Because local government and rural society have changed a lot in these 50 years of independence. Influence and rule in the village is not in the previous attitude. At one time, some people were repeatedly elected as union councilors and chairmen for service and public welfare work. But that is not to say that the scope of the Union Council’s public interest work was too wide at that time. When asked about the number of roads or pools in a union in 5 years, it seems that one has to remember with one’s hair and hands what a chairman of that union was able to do in 5 years. Now that era is gone. So the pace of development of the previous UP and the pace of activities of the current UP has changed drastically. There has been a huge change in the rural society as well. As a result, it would not be appropriate to see or understand the present and the Union Council with the previous situation. In the change of rural society and mentality, ethics, ideology, politics, etc. have become widely mixed. Roads, Pool-culverts, Religious Institutions, Educational Institutions, Birth and Death Registration, NID, Government Data Collection, Health Centers, Elderly, Widow Allowance, Kabikha, Freedom Fighter Allowance etc. . So now if we try to understand the Union Council 70-80 or 100 years ago and the then chairman-members with compassionate thoughts, then nostalgia can not give much. But with the change of time, have we ever had any thoughts about the laws and regulations required for the election of the people’s representative to make this institution up-to-date? Have the political parties considered the necessity of considering educational qualifications, political initiation, personal integrity, qualifications, etc. to be the chairman-member of such an organization? Of course, the big question is why only the Union Council, the bodies of the people who are now the top representatives of the people who are being run or elected, or the educational qualifications, political and personal integrity, qualifications, skills, etc. are considered for nomination and voting. Everywhere the issues of education, qualifications, honesty, skills are being neglected, predominant in finance, support groups and influence. This is also happening with the body of people’s representatives at all levels, from the position of a Union Councilor to the great National Assembly.
It was better not to make arrangements for allocating party symbols in the Union Council elections. But I don’t know if it can be said for sure that there would have been a lot of manipulation even if it was not given. The issue of nominating a chairman and a member of the party did not work this time because the BNP, one of the main opposition parties, did not participate in the election. Therefore, the decision of the Awami League to nominate a person in such a situation has created an exclusive advantage of being elected unopposed as the Chairman. As a result, many were desperate to get party nominations. This desperation has created competition for lobbying for others in the team as well. There is a dilemma between the likes and dislikes of the ministers and MPs and the likes and dislikes of the local Awami League leaders. As a result, many have become rebel candidates. A large number of rebel candidates have also won. Influence, finances, groupings, etc., have worked behind this victory. If you search, you will see that many of the apostates did not get much support from the party even as members. Moreover, due to being in power for a decade, the issue of loyalty to the influential and rich people has become more important in the grassroots of the Awami League than the norm. Ambition has also increased among many now. The team is a signboard to them, not the norm, not even discipline. Evaluating the qualifications is now lost from the grassroots. As a result, the image of most of those who are introducing themselves at the grassroots level of the party is not very much in the locality. But they are also reluctant to allow anyone with an image to be involved in party activities. As a result, the grassroots of the Awami League is not getting much addition of talented, capable, promising, idealistic, well-educated youth. The team now sees a lot of numbers, but there is a huge gap in competing for qualifications. This unprincipledness of politics, lack of ideals, greed for riches, power-centric dilemmas are dragged into violence. That was seen to happen in the second phase of this year’s UP election. If this is not done right now, if not for the upliftment of meritorious, competent, educated and loyal to the party ideology, then not only the future of the party but also the very existence of the nation could be in crisis. The day has probably come for leaders who have already failed to prove their worth. On the other hand, it is time to welcome those who are more or less loyal to the team and are still working silently. Does the Awami League feel the need to think like this?
Mamtajuddin Patwari: Professor (retired), historian and columnist.
Source: Bhorer Kagoj by www.bhorerkagoj.com.
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