Three former chief election commissioners – Abdur Rauf, Kazi Rakib Uddin and KM Nurul Huda – on Wednesday lauded the current Election Commission for the suspension of questionable by-election to the Gaibandha-5 constituency and criticised the government for transferring the authority of national identification (NID) issuing services.
The NID services should be in the hands of the Election Commission, the ex-office bearers opined as they were talking to reporters after a meeting with the incumbent commission at the EC office in the capital.
"The independent Election Commission has the right to take action as it has shown in Gaibandha polls. There were irregularities. We urge them not to hesitate in making such decisions repeatedly if needed," Abdur Rauf told reporters after a meeting with the new office-bearers on initiation at the EC office in the capital.
On NID, he said different offices might hold the NID card information, there is no problem with that. "However, since the Election Commission is its issuer, it should be kept as the authorities. Otherwise, there might be trouble in polling centres if someone's data on voter lists don't match with that on the NID server."
The former CEC suggested the commission continue its efforts to use EVMs in the next parliamentary polls. "People will accept its use when they are conscious."
Kazi Rakib Uddin Ahmed, on Gaibandha polls, said, "The Election Commission has worked as per the Constitution and laws."
He said the concept of NID came from the voter list. "People will lose interest in voting if NID services are not provided by the EC. As we observed, people are more interested in having NIDs rather than being voters. So, EC should not lose this advantage."
Regarding EVMs, the former chief of EC said there is a need for a positive campaign about the technology-based polling devices.
"Voter lists especially for national elections are closely related to NIDs. If the authority for the services is taken away from the EC, it will be difficult for the commission to work," KM Nurul Huda said.
"EVM is a bit difficult to understand for those who have not used it. So, they have to be made aware first. EVMs should be used in the next National election as much as possible," he added.
On suspended Gaibandha polls, the former CEC said the Election Commission made the right decision. They have witnessed irregularities and taken the decision based on evidence. He suggested the EC take initiative for better coordination at the field level to ensure free and fair elections.
Taking part in the discussion, Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal said, "The support of our predecessors gives us courage to move forward with honesty and bravery."
On the next steps of Gaibandha polls, he added that they formed an inquiry committee and were waiting for the report.
Meanwhile, former election commissioner M Sakhawat Hossain, who was also present there, suggested the incumbent commission emphasise on CCTV cameras rather than EVMs.
"It would be better if you install CCTV cameras in polling centres with the budget allocated for EVMS," he added.