Speakers at a regional dialogue on national election policy and the initiative of the civil society in Mymensingh yesterday demanded a provision of public funds for electioneering.
They suggested the civil society representatives hold discussion with the country’s top political leaders and persuade them to nominate the honest and competent people as candidates for the next parliamentary election.
Speaking at the daylong regional dialogue organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in collaboration with The Daily Star, Prothom Alo and Channel I, they said the people should be aware while exercising voting rights.
On the other hand, the political parties should not nominate the corrupt, black money holders and those advocating communalism to contest the upcoming polls, they added.
The discussants also suggested taking the campaign for the honest and competent candidates to the grassroots level to produce better results. They said the government officials should not be allowed to become a candidate within five years of retirement.
They pointed out that once in power, many are forced to indulge in corruption. The government should ensure an atmosphere where an honest man remains honest even after being elected.
The speakers also opined in favour of curtailing the executive power of the parliament members. The lawmakers should not be involved in distributing relief and development projects, they said.
The electoral process should be reformed so that the black money holders cannot participate in the polls. Besides, someone who has been elected to parliament for two straight terms and one who had failed last time should not be allowed to run for office, observed some of the discussants.
The participants said a free press and vibrant civil society are prerequisite for a true and practising democracy.
Executive Director of CPD Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya was moderator of the daylong discussion presided over by noted intellectual Jatin Sarker. Former member of caretaker government Syed Manzur Elahi, Mymensingh District Nagorik Andolon President Advocate Anisur Rahman Khan and Principle Shamsul Islam spoke as the special guests.
Among others, noted industrialist Samson H Chowdhury and former president of Metropolitan Chamber Laila Kabir were present at the dialogue participated by political leaders, lawyers, teachers, social workers, development and cultural activists.
Many of the participants could not speak due to time constraint at the programme, which seem to have generated much interest among the locals in the citizen’s campaign for clean candidates.
Suggestions were made on issues ranging from electoral reforms to transparency in the government to accountability of the public representatives.
Advocate Anisur Rahman Khan said the main problem is that people do not have confidence in the political parties while some of the civil society members seem biased towards certain political parties, he observed.
Syed Manzur Elahi suggested the political parties practise democracy within their organisation. Democracy will not flourish if a party’s activities centre around one particular leader, he pointed out.
Shamsul Islam said the candidates failing to keep their electoral pledges should be considered ineligible for the next election.
Jatin Sarker said religion-based politics should be banned in line with the constitution of 1972. He said the lawmakers should not be involved in activities other than legislating.
Advocate Sultana Kamal of Ain o Shalish Kendra, Shaikh Siraj of Channel i, Abdul Quayyum of Prothom Alo, Captain Mujibur Rahman MP, Delwar Hossain Khan Dulu MP, and Abdul Matin Sarker MP were among the others who spoke.