There are sufficient reasons to worry that violence might erupt in the port city centering around the Chattogram City Corporation (CCC) polls, and in no way can the Election Commission avoid its responsibility.
Election Commissioner (EC) Mahbub Talukder stated this while talking to reporters at his Nirbachan Bhaban office at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in the capital on Monday.
He said, "I am expressing this concern, because already two persons have been killed centering around the election. I want to repeat what I have already said many times: life is more valuable than any election."
Mahbub Talukder then read out a written speech titled "My Statement on the CCC Polls." In it, he said, "In order to uphold our self-esteem as a nation, I hope that the voters, law enforcement agencies and all other stakeholders involved in the election will play a neutral and responsible role in the crucial Chattogram City Corporation elections."
"The Chattogram City Corporation election is the most important election for the remaining period of the present Election Commission's tenure. There are sufficient enough reasons for fear of violence surrounding this election," he added.
"If the environment is not conducive, free, fair, lawful, and acceptable, elections will not be possible. In the absence of a favourable election environment, the idea of a level playing field – a prerequisite for elections – becomes irrelevant," he continued.
"Therefore, creating a level playing field for all the parties participating in the CCC election is a big challenge for us," Talukder said, adding that a fair election is a test of patriotism for all, irrespective of party and opinion.
The EC said, "Voting is a symbol of the sovereignty of the people in an independent country, a sacred deposit. Through a fair election, the hopes and aspirations of the people are reflected. When elections are rigged, democracy also is plundered."
"Democracy is the essence of the spirit of the Liberation War that we often talk about. The main goal of democracy is smooth transfer of power. But, we have to make sure that the real representatives of the people are elected through voting," he continued.
"The participation of different strata of society in peaceful voting is highly desirable. Those who cause chaos must be resisted legally. We want to instill confidence in the minds of the people and inspire them to participate in the march of democracy," he added.
The CCC polls to elect the port city mayor, 41 councillors and 14 reserved women councillors is scheduled to be held on 27 January. Voting would continue from 9am to 5pm at 4,886 polling booths in 735 polling stations.