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Minister, AL MP may face jail term

EC initiates legal action for influencing polls

L-R: Abdul Latif Biswas and A Rahman Bodi

The Election Commission (EC) has initiated steps to take legal actions against a cabinet minister and a ruling party lawmaker for allegedly influencing yesterday's upazila parishad election.

Ignoring the electoral rules, Fisheries and Livestock Minister Abdul Latif Biswas and Awami League lawmaker Abdur Rahman Bodi interfered in the polls in Belkuchi upazila of Sirajganj and Teknaf of Cox's Bazar.

As per the electoral rules, they may be imprisoned for a term of two to seven years and fined if they are found guilty of the offences, which are considered criminal offences.

In the run-up to the upazila parishad elections, the EC had written to the Cabinet Division requesting all ministers, state ministers, deputy ministers and persons enjoying similar status not to participate in electioneering by visiting upazilas scheduled for the polls.

"But a minister was found at a polling station today. There was no need for him to visit that place but he stayed there and created problems in polling. As a result, we were compelled to suspend polling," Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) ATM Shamsul Huda said, referring to Latif Biswas' interference in Belkuchi upazila.

Referring to Bodi, Huda said another lawmaker beat up polling officials.

"Judicial magistrates have already been asked to take legal actions against the two," the CEC said.

"We are waiting for detail investigation reports, receiving which we will take action," he said.

The CEC said usually problems arise centring officials involved in holding election but there was no such problem. "Since polling officials did not pay heed to anyone's dictates, they were intimidated and influenced," the CEC said.

Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) M Sakhawat Hossain also said Post and Telecommunications Minister Raziuddin Ahmed Razu visited his electoral area.

Local sources said the minister's presence at Raipura upazila of Narsingdi gave advantage to the candidate his party is backing.

Our correspondent in Sirajganj reports: Minister Latif Biswas went to Sirajganj on Wednesday night and stayed at his residence in Kamarpara village in Belkuchi upazila. He attended a meeting at the Belkuchi AL office that night.

Latif visited Meghulla Madrasa polling centre and Kamarpara Primary School centre yesterday morning.

He left Belkuchi at 1:30pm after hearing the news of postponement of the elections at the upazila.

When contacted, Returning Officer Abdul Qayyum said, "We postponed the elections on orders of the Election Commission and we did not get any complaint against the minister."

Abdul Latif Biswas could not be contacted over mobile phone for his comments.

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