Chittagong Hill Tracts: Transparent Elections Lead To PCJSS Leader’s Victory
On 5 January 2014, election held in the Rangmati Hills led to the sharp victory of PCJSS leader, Ushatan. Elections with over 55% turnout were peaceful, fair, and transparent, as also recognized by the defeated candidate.
Below is an article published by the DhakaTribune:
Elections to Rangamati constituency in the Chittagong Hill Tracts on Sunday [5 January 2014] was fair and transparent with over 55% turnout when there were opposite scenario in many other places, locals and government officials said.
Even the defeated candidate, Awami League-nominated Dipankar Talukder, raised no allegation of vote rigging or any other irregularities during the polls.
Rangamati Deputy Commissioner Md Mostafa Kamal, also the returning officer, said he had not received a single allegation of harassment or violence.
Independent candidate Ushatan Talukdar defeated the former CHT affairs state minister by a margin over around 20,000 votes. Senior leader of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), Ushatan bagged 96,237 votes while Dipankar got 77, 385.
Ushatan is the third person in the 43 years’ history of the country who is elected from the CHT region as a representative of the PCJSS. Earlier, Manabendra Narayan Larma, also the founder of PCJSS, and Chai Thwai Roaza won the 1973 elections as independent candidates.
Mohammad Zakir Hussain Chowdhury, chief election agent of the AL candidate, told the Dhaka Tribune, that the election was fair and transparent and that they accepted the results.
“We got over 77,000 votes. It would not have happened had the polls not been fair. We accept the defeat. People have the right to choose whoever they think more eligible,” he added.
Ushatan’s chief election agent Udayan Tripura told the Dhaka Tribune that such voter turnout in Rangamati was possible since all the candidates despite their political affiliation had succeeded in making the people believe that the voting was crucial to bring a change.
“I think, people elected us because they were frustrated and upset with the Awami League’s decision over not recognising the indigenous people as ‘indigenous’ in the 15th amendment to the constitution and non-implementation of the CHT treaty,” Udayan said when asked how a regional party beat the AL-nominated candidate. Romik Chakma of Baghaichhari became a voter in 2008 but he did not cast his vote.
“I was not interested. But this time, I cast my vote since the candidates have made me believe that if I do not exercise my rights to vote, bringing positive change in this district is not possible. Thus I do not have the right to whining about their failure,” he said.