Fridayday, December 11, 2015, Agrahayan 27, 1422 BS, Safar 28, 1437 Hijri

EC to keep 'controversial' symbols for women
Writes to Home Ministry for law and order
Published :Friday, 11 December, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 23
Mahabub Alam
Despite much criticism from various quarters on electoral symbols allocated to the municipal reserved seat councillor candidates, the Election Commission (EC) has persisted on retaining the symbols for the poll, on the pretext of 'time constraint.'
The EC has set aside Gas Stove, Bangle, Doll, Frock, Purse, Scissors, Chocolate, Bee, Grape and Harmonium as electoral symbols for the women councillor aspirants.
Various political and socio-cultural organisations censured the EC for allocating these symbols.
They termed the symbol allocation as 'discriminative to women.'
Several EC officials told journalists that such symbols for women were not allocated aiming to 'dishonour' them.
The officials also assured of taking steps on the matter. The women candidates and other critics hoped for a change of symbols.
But on Thursday EC Secretary Sirajul Islam dashed all hopes, saying the symbols cannot be cancelled before the forthcoming municipal poll.
He assured of changing the controversial symbols allocated for the reserved seat candidates in the union council polls.
The Pot, Necklace, Comb, Jaba Flower, Anklet, Bread, Pencil, Cat, Eggplant and School Bag have been kept for the reserved seat (women) union council candidates.
Earlier, the EC set aside some controversial symbols, including Radish, for reserved seat councillor candidates of the Dhaka-Chittagong City Corporation polls.
The same criticism was raised then by the candidates and different organisations.
Many candidates awarded 'Radish' symbol did not even campaign while many were made a laughing stock by some voters at the time of seeking votes.
The EC then promised to solve the problem. But it has yet not been complied.
EC Secretary, however, said, "In the next union council election, we will not keep such electoral symbols for which the women may feel insulted. If needed, we will remove the stumbling blocks in future."
He said that the EC had to work hurriedly with the municipal rules and the electoral code of conduct for time shortage. "These symbols have been selected without much thought."
The Secretary said the ballot papers have already been printed, so, the symbols cannot be changed.
Meanwhile, a seven-member delegation of the Jatiyatabadi Mahila Dal (JMD), an associate women-wing of the BNP, on Thursday requested the Election Commission (EC) to change the symbols before the municipal poll.
The delegation led by the JMD's General Secretary Shirin Sultana termed the symbols as 'dishonourable' to the women.
She also called upon the EC to assure security for women voters on December 30, the day of voting in the municipal election.
The EC, in the meantime, sent a letter to the Home Ministry asking it to take necessary steps to keep the law and order situation under control during the election.
The letter signed by EC Secretary was sent to the Secretary of the Home Ministry, said EC Deputy Secretary Shamsul Alam.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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