The Local Government Minister Tazul Islam Wednesday said that the ministry appointed the immediate past chairmen of the now-defunct 61 zila parishads as administrators instead of the previously announced bureaucrats.
The government announced the termination of the zila parishads on 17 April.
According to the Zila Parishad Law, the parishads expire after five years from the date of the first meeting. There is also a provision to hold elections 180 days before the expiry of a parishads tenure. But the elections were delayed due to the passing of the Zila Parishad (Amended) Bill- 2022 recently. The Election Commission cannot take initiative to hold any election of the zila parishad on its own without the clearance of the LGRD ministry.
When contacted, the EC Additional Secretary Ashok Kumar Debnath told TBS that the EC has nothing to do with holding the timely elections of the Zila Parishad unless they get a green signal from the LGRD ministry.
He informed that the LGRD ministry sent a letter to the EC on 25 April to hold elections in the 61 zila parishads. The EC has taken initiative to hold elections after receiving the letter. The polls will be held as soon as possible, he added.
The LGRD minister was not available to comment on why the ministry was so late in giving clearance for the elections despite several attempts to contact him.
When contacted, State Minister Swapan Bhattacharya told TBS that his responsibility in the ministry was something else.
Seeking anonymity, an official said that the LGRD ministry was waiting for the amended Zila Parishad Bill that was passed recently which contributed to the delay in holding the elections.
Regarding the delay and necessity to amend the law, he said that every zila parishad (big or small) has 21 members. It was a problem for the small zila parishad to pay their honorarium and other expenses as their income was less. The problem has been addressed in the amended law.
Regarding the appointment of the immediate past chairmen instead of the bureaucrats as the administrators, he said that there could have been much lobbying creating chaos if the process to appoint bureaucrats as administrators was implemented.
If any of the present administrators want to take part in the election, he has to resign first.
"We have come to know that the EC will give an election schedule any time after the Eid," the official said.
In his comment, Brig Gen (Retd) M Sakhawat Hossain said the trend to delay the holding of the zila parishad elections has been prevailing for a long time. Sometimes the polls are delayed for political reasons.
"As the LGRD ministry has sent the letter for holding elections, we should observe when the EC holds the elections," he said.
Questioning the necessity of the zila parishads, Brig Shakhawat said that there are so many local government bodies now which means the zila parishad has no significant function.