6th Phase of Upazila polls: On 29 May 2014, SHUJAN-Citizens for Good Governance declared, “The dominance of criminals in politics shows a rising trend, representing a threat to the country’s democracy and rule of law,” while revealing the affidavit information of 465 newly elected Upazila chairmen. “On one hand, the tendency among criminals to become politicians has sharply increased; on the other hand, the tendency among political leaders to commit crimes has also seen a marked rise,” said SHUJAN leaders, addressing a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity.
“Nowadays, political leaders are taking criminals and miscreants into the party to retain their power. Taking advantage of this, the criminals are moving to the front lines of political leadership,” said Dr. Tofail Ahmed, a local government expert and executive member of SHUJAN.
“People, parliament, local government bodies, and everything else are in the grip of ‘criminal leadership,’ which is alarming”, added Dr. Ahmed. He said miscreants were amassing fortune through tender manipulation, the drug trade, and shady land businesses and then putting the money in politics.
Mr. Tofail stressed the need for proper scrutiny of the aspiring candidates’ affidavits before elections.
SHUJAN Secretary, Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar, said that criminals and musclemen are winning in local government and national elections; people could not expect rule of law from them.
Replying to a query on the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) chief’s remarks on Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), Majumdar said, “It is not acceptable in any way. He works in a statutory body. He can’t give threat to harass anyone.” ACC Commissioner Md. Shahabuddin questioned the transparency of TIB’s activities in spending foreign funds
The SHUJAN report on the 465 Upazila chairmen-elect shows that 133 are accused of different cases, while 25 face murder cases. Some 228 chairmen are businessmen.
At least 265 chairmen have completed graduation, while 59 could not complete secondary level education. About 103 chairmen’s wealth exceeds Tk 1 crore.
SHUJAN thinks that the influence of political parties and spinelessness of the EC are the main reasons for violence, irregularities, and ballot box stuffing in Upazila elections. It demanded reconstitution of the EC for holding free, fair and neutral elections in future.
Sixty-one journalists from different newspaper and electronic media, students, and academics participated in the press conference.