4th Phase of Upazila polls: On 20 March 2014, some 30% of the 379 candidates contesting for the Office of Chairman in the upcoming 4th phase of the Upazila election face criminal charges, including allegations of murder. This was revealed on 20 March by SHUJAN-Citizens for Good Governance by the data gathered from the affidavits the candidates submitted to the Election Commission. The 4th phase election is to be held on 23 March in 92 Upazilas.
SHUJAN seeks to promote good governance and transparency. SHUJAN disclosed that about 34% of the chairman candidates are graduates and 19% are postgraduates.
The data found the majority of the candidates are businessmen. It said that 60% of the candidates are involved in business, 15% in agriculture, 13% in services and 5% in the legal profession. Sixteen chairman candidates did not list their professions.
Eleven candidates (3%) have wealth, including the wealth of dependents, worth more than BDT five crore (≈609,000 USD) each, while 42 (11%) others over BDT one crore (≈122,000 USD) each and the wealth of 66 (17%) candidates less than BDT five lakh (≈6085 USD each.
The annual income of five candidates is more than one crore (≈122,000 USD) each, while that of 98 candidates (26%) is less than BDT two lakh (≈2,435 USD).
Co-coordinator of SHUJAN, Sanjida Haque Bipasha, presented the keynote paper revealing the statistics. She reported that violence has led to the suspension of voting in 71 polling stations in the first three phases of Upazila elections.
“In addition, anomalies occurred in 471 polling stations –six in the 1st phase, 100 in the 2nd phase and 365 in the 3rd phase- in the previous phases of the countrywide Upazila elections,” Bipasha announced.
“Three people were killed and more than 200 others were injured in the polls due to violence during the first three phases,” she added.
Addressing the press conference, SHUJAN President, M. Hafizuddin Khan, declared that the Election Commission failed to hold fair elections despite it having adequate legal power. “The commission will have to bear the responsibility…If the commission defends the violence saying that such violence is normal, we have nothing to say,” he lamented.
SHUJAN Secretary, Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar, disclosed that the Election Committee did not apply its power to hold fair elections and to prevent vote rigging.