The schedule for the 10th Parliamentary Election has already been declared and we have entered into the pre-election period. The Election Commission has also amended the Code of Conduct for the Guidance of Political Parties and Candidates, 2008 to suit the upcoming national election. The code of conduct is prepared by the Election Commission under the rule-making power given in Section 91B of the Representation of the People Ordinance (RPO), 1972.
Pre-election period means the time between the announcement of the election schedule and the publication of election results in the official gazette.
VIPs of the government
Prime minister, speaker of the parliament, ministers, chief whip, deputy speaker, leader of the opposition, deputy chief of the parliament, deputy chief of the opposition, deputy ministers, state ministers, whips, members of the parliament and mayors of the city corporations will be considered very important persons (VIPs) of the government.
Here are some salient features of the code of conduct for our readers:
Commencement of election campaign
No political party, nominated candidate or independent candidate or any other person on their behalf shall not commence any election campaign prior to three weeks from the prescribed date of the election.
Posters, banners, portraits and symbols used in election campaigns
a) The posters and banners used in the election campaign shall be in black and white
b) The size of the posters shall not exceed 60centimetre × 45centimetre
c) The size of the banners shall not exceed 3metre × 1metre
d) No candidate shall use symbols and portraits of any person other than his/her own.
However, in case the candidate is nominated by a political party, he/she may use the portraits of the head of his/her political party
e) The size of the portrait shall not exceed 60centimetre × 45centimetre
f) The size of any election symbol used by any contesting candidate shall not exceed 3metres in length, width and height
Subscription, donation etc to any person/organization is prohibited
Any candidate or any other person on his/her behalf shall not offer or promise to offer any subscription, donation, etc to any person or organisation of his/her constituency either publicly or privately in the pre-election period.
Approval of public projects, unveiling of plaques, etc are prohibited
a) During the pre-election period no candidate shall approve, declare approval, lay foundation stone for or unveil plaque of any development or revenue projects of government in any government, semi-government or autonomous organisation.
b) In the pre-election period no government VIPs shall declare any donation, grant any fund, or release any money in favour of any person or group or institution from any fund belonging to any government, semi-government or autonomous institution.
Election campaign by government VIPs
a) No government VIPs shall combine their official visit with electioneering work.
b) No government VIPs shall use government vehicles, transmission equipment, or exploit any other government facilities for the purpose of election campaign for himself or on behalf of any other person. In addition, government VIPs shall not employ any personnel of any government, semi government or autonomous institution, or any teacher, officer or staff of any government, semi government or autonomous educational institution.
c) No contesting candidate shall preside over any government-funded development activities or attend any such meeting.
d) No contesting candidate holding a position of president or member of any educational institution, or any other person nominated by him holding such position shall preside over or attend any meeting of such institution, or engage himself with any activities of such institution.
e) No government VIPs, not being an agent for himself or any other person, shall enter into the poll center or being present in the vote counting room of a poll centre.
f) In case of parliamentary election of a constituency where the seat is vacant, no government VIPs shall go to that place for visit or electioneering works during the pre-election period. Provided that if any government VIP is a voter of the concerned constituency, he/she may go there only to exercise his/her voting right.
Penalty for the violation of the code of conduct
If any candidate or any other person on his behalf violates any provision of this code of conduct during the pre-election period, he/she will be punished with imprisonment which may extend to six months or a fine which may extend to Tk50,000. If any political party violates any provision of this code of conduct, it shall be liable to a fine which may extend to Tk50,000.