Truly yours A hopeful practice
Mohammad Ali Sattar
The controversy over Election Commission is not new in this country. We have been hearing this sorry tale of ineffective Election Commissions ever since independence. However we have had elections in all tiers under an election commission, which has not been above controversy.
Again sometimes the role of the chief election commissioner and his deputies has raised eye brows of all and sundry. Without mentioning names I would like to point out to the fact that there have been some very incompetent persons donning the important chair of the commission. Their activities and utterances have caused shame and embarrassment to the government, people and the country.
Elections under them were far from clean; rather the process of election has been greatly marred by their brazen acts of partisanship. We have stories of rigging, robbing of ballot boxes, stuffing ballots by returning officers, not allowing voters to the centre, controversial acts of law enforcing members etc., all had rendered the entire process of election ineffective, highly controversial and unacceptable to large number of people.
Simultaneously, there have been efforts by individuals and bodies to being changes in the formation process and function of the Election Commission. However, sadly the suggestions and recommendations fell in deaf ears and the same old practice of partisanship went on unheeded.
We had one election commission formed during the last care-taker government which was acceptable in terms of the quality and standings of the members.
This time too there was an air of mistrust and suspicion in many quarters regarding the dialogue of the political parties with the president. Hopefully, the process of forming the Election Commission has gathered speed. Soon after the dialogue the search committee was formed by the president. Here also there was the rejection by the opposition terming this search committee as pro Awami League.
However, departing from the tradition, the search committee, formed recently for the constitution of the commission, has come up with a new approach. This time they preferred to talk to eminent citizens of the country prior to making final recommendations. Instead of playing it alone they preferred to get names of the would-be commission members from the political parties. Then they held meetings with renowned individuals. They got 125 names form the 26 registered political parties and short listed 20 names for now. They will finally prepare ten names and send them to the president to decide.
There have been more meetings with civil society members and senior journalists. Interestingly, perhaps for the first time, during the exercise, the eminent persons could come up with their views to the press. They have, more or less, expressed similar sentiment regarding the stature and standing of the EC members.
We hope, through this exercise, we shall have something to be happy about unless the whole process and effort is upset by invisible or obvious force.