|Courtesy of the Daily Star: Vote rigging in plain sight|
1. Now we know what the Prime Minister means by 'free and fair elections'.
In January 2014, the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina promised there would be 'free and fair' national elections, even without a caretaker government. The BNP and opposition parties boycotted it, arguing that there could be no such election under a political government In 2015, she promised the same in the city mayor elections. This time the BNP did not boycott. Now I suppose we know what would have happened had the BNP taken part in the 2014 elections and is likely to happen in the 2019 national elections: widespread ballot box stuffing along with police and election commission complicity (see here for just one such example). Despite all the evidence, this morning the prime minister has stated: 'The city corporations elections were conducted in a free, fair and peaceful manner. The police administration has discharged their duties responsibly.” Were these elections a dress rehearsal of what will happen in 2019 national elections?
2. Winning is the only important thing.
For the Awami League right now (and no doubt it would be the same were the BNP in power), winning power is the only thing that matters. The Awami League could have taken a different view, allowing the election to be free and fair, and letting the most popular candidate win. Were the Awami League to have done this and lost, then they could have argued, 'Look we are capable of holding free and fair elections. The BNP should have no worries for the future.' But no, it does not matter to the government right now how they win, as long as they do win.