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Overdue DCC polls raise unpleasant questions

THE apparent reluctance of the Awami League-led government to holding the long overdue elections to the two Dhaka City Corporations tends to reinforce speculations that the bifurcation of the Dhaka City Corporation during the previous tenure of the incumbents, in defiance of public criticism, may have been intended to not only remove the then mayor, a senior leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, but also use the local government bodies for their partisan interests by keeping administrators therein as long as possible. According to a New Age report on Sunday, although the High Court vacated on May 13, 2013 its stay on the holding of the city polls and the law concerned provisioned for elections within 90 days since the corporations came into being, there is still hardly any visible steps to this end. Moreover, while the Election Commission insists that it cannot hold the polls due to demarcation-related problems in both the corporation areas, some problems the LGRD and cooperatives ministry is supposed to resolve, the latter is yet to come up with any reasonable explanation about its failure, if not unwillingness, to pave the way for the polls. Additionally, as the chief election commissioner pointed out, the ministry demarcated some areas of the corporations on the basis of cadastral and review surveys only to cause problems as the commission seeks to prepare an area-wise electoral roll.
It may be pertinent to note that all the district councils are still run by the state-appointed administrators despite the incumbents having pledged to hold elections to them soon in the wake of appointing the administrators in 2011. Also, during its previous tenure, the government virtually relegated the elected upazila parishads to functional irrelevance by significantly curtailing their authority over administrative and development affairs in particular. What is regrettable, all this occurs despite its self-professed commitment to strengthening local government bodies by decentralising power, not to mention the constitution that mandated the state to run such entities by elected representatives only.
With the corporations continuing to be run by administrators since the DCC split in November 2011, the city dwellers have reportedly largely been deprived of the services the corporations in particular are mandated to deliver for them. In such a situation, the government needs to take immediate steps to hold elections to the corporations.

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