1st Phase of Upazila polls: On 17 February 2014, the first phase of the Upazila Parishad elections is set to witness the dominance of businessmen as more than half of the chairman candidates belong to this profession.
Of the 428 chairman aspirants, 122 face criminal cases against them. Fifteen are charged with murder according to a report by SHUJAN-Citizens for Good Governance. SHUJAN is working to establish good governance in line with the findings of the report announced during a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU).
The report presented information on chairman candidates in the 1st phase of polls to be held in 97 Upazilas on 19 February and one Upazila on 24 February. However, SHUJAN could not collect information on chairmen aspirants in 2 Upazilas.
Regarding the professions of chairman candidates, around 21.03% are involved in the agricultural sector and 13.08% are engaged in other professions. Many of the candidates did not mention their professions in their affidavits. Interestingly, most of the candidates contesting the chairman post are well-educated. At least 220 candidates completed graduation while 78 did not complete secondary level education. The annual income of 289 candidates is less than 5 lakh BDT (≈6085 USD) each while six candidates earn more than 1 crore BDT (≈122,000 USD) each annually. At least 61 candidates own properties worth more than 1 crore BDT (≈122,000 USD) each. Among them, nine have assets worth over 5 crore BDT (≈608,000 USD) each. Approximately 62 candidates have taken loans and only 103 pay income taxes according to the report.
According to the Central Co-Coordinator of SHUJAN, Dilip Kumar Sarkar, the returning officers and the Election Commission must take necessary steps to widely publicize the information of affidavits so that voters may choose their representatives. He also criticized the political parties for interfering in the Upazila Parishad elections noting the elections should be non-partisan.
SHUJAN Executive Member Justice, Kazi Ebadul Hoque, declared, “We want the local government bodies to be run under efficient, skilled and honest leadership. The disclosure of candidates’ information will help voters to elect the right person.” SHUJAN Assistant Secretary, Zakir Hossain, among others, was present at the function.