THE Election Commission (EC) has been approaching the task of drawing up a voters' list not in a broadly acceptable manner. The voters and all conscious people in the country are turning more and more resentful of its activities. This is only muddling the process of drawing up a proper voters' list. In the process, political dissensions are mounting, far from receeding. The EC would not be deserving the respect and cooperation of the nation if its modus operandi is considered, on real or perceived grounds, as an obstructive factor for holding the all-too-important national elections on which depends the survival of the country's so hard earned democracy.
Thus, time has come to be extremely wary about the activities of the EC. It must not hold the sovereign wishes of the people hostage to its own work-style that is perceived to be not congenial for a free and fair election. The criticism of the controversial methods and stances of the EC is not restricted to opposition political parties alone. The same has also drawn flak even from the senior ministers of the government. They have suggested the voluntary resignation of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and restructuring of the Election Commission as the realistic way of creating the congenial environment for holding free and fair elections.
Yet then, the EC has been found to be blocking all ways for drawing up a voters' list to the satisfaction of all ever since the task became due. First of all, it went for a fresh voters' list when, nationally, an uproar was noted against it. It was feared that false voters in huge number would be added to this list. This was proved afterwards on receiving actual evidences of inclusion of fake voters in the list that was drawn up three months ago. The EC lost the legal battle to establish this new voters' list as the final one as the court ordered updating of the existing voters' list as the valid one. But even after the court's verdict, the EC took an extraordinary long time to proceed with its implementation.
Presently, the EC is making a pretension of following the court's verdict as it is adopting controversial ways of amending the existing voters' list. It has declared unprecedented measures for updating the voters' list in the face of a near consensus opposition to the same. New voters, many of them illiterate and uninitiated, are to pursue complicated procedures of visiting EC's offices and even the politically influenced offices of ward commissioners and local bodies to have their names incorporated in the voters' list. Relatives of dead persons are supposed to take initiatives on their own to get the names of the dead persons removed from the list following the same cumbersome procedures.
The expectation that potential voters and others will do these things on their own is very unrealistic in the context of Bangladesh. Therefore, almost everybody including some cabinet ministers have requested the EC to ensure that door-to-door visits are made for updating the list as that would be the best or most realistic way in the backdrop of past experiences to incorporate new eligible voters and strike out the names of the dead ones. A reasonably dependable voters' list to be acceptable to all can, thus, be readied. But the EC has already rejected this good counsel. It is stubbornly sticking to its own peculiar plans for updating the voters' list, notwithstanding that the same would not be generally acceptable and create controversy about the elections. But can the progress or best interests of the nation be allowed to meet reverses from such an obduracy? The answer should be obvious. Time has come to revamp the Election Commission at the fastest in the highest national interest. All concerned do need to put in concerted efforts in order to ensure that this revamping is done sooner, as broadly expected.