Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Freestyle campaign by Rajshahi mayor ignoring EC rules

Rajshahi Mayor Khairuzzaman Liton and Bagha upazila chairman candidate Mizanur Rahman Minu jointly hold an umbrella at Bagha High School ground on Tuesday as Liton calls upon the audience to vote for Mizan, an Awami League leader.Photo: STAR

Rajshahi City Corporation Mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton has continued campaigns in favour of Awami League leaders who are contesting in the upazila elections.

Such act by the mayor, who bears the status of a state minister, flouts directives from the Election Commission that served a notice on Sunday asking ministers, state ministers and persons holding similar statuses to refrain from taking part in upazila election campaign.

The mayor is found visiting the upazilas everyday after his office hours to introduce local AL leaders contesting as candidates for the upazila election and seek votes for them, although the upazila elections are held non-party basis.

Mayor Liton in a large public meeting at Hatgangopara High School in Bagmara upazila yesterday afternoon introduced Ibrahim Hossain, former joint secretary of district AL, as the party's chairman candidate for the upazila and sought votes for him.

In a meeting at Bagha High School field on Tuesday, Liton campaigned for Bagha upazila chairman candidate Mizanur Rahman Minu, former organising secretary of the upazila AL.

Liton is also scheduled to visit Tanore today and Puthiya on Friday.

Liton had to resign from the post of general secretary of the city Awami League before he took oath as Rajshahi mayor.

Afsar Ali, on behalf of upazila chairman candidate Layeb Uddin Lavlu, who is also an AL leader, lodged a complaint yesterday afternoon alleging Liton's violations of EC directives in Bagha, said Assistant Returning Officer Dewan M Shahriar Feroz.

When asked about Liton's taking part in upazila election campaign, Returning Officer M Abdul Barik, also the additional deputy commissioner (General) of Rajshahi, said, “I am aware of the matter but I am helpless. He [mayor] holds the status of a state minister. I requested Rajshahi deputy commissioner to talk to him about it.”

Asked if he informed the Election Commission of the matter, he said, “No. As we received Afsar Ali's complaint this evening [Wednesday], we will now send it to the Election Commission.”

“No action can be taken in case of such violation of Election Commission directives as there is no such bar in the election code of conduct. We just read the notice in newspapers,” the RO added.

As this correspondent talked to Rajshahi Mayor Khairuzzaman Liton over phone yesterday, he said, “I am always respectful to the Election Commission and so the question of ignoring the EC directives does not arise. I just joined meetings arranged for my reception as the mayor, not any election campaigns."

"Those political speeches are quite natural...I am the mayor now because of my political background. How can I leave politics when grassroots politicians are so much involved with the upazila election?" he said when asked about his speeches seeking votes for AL leaders.


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