DHAKA, 8 June 2004 — Mahi B. Chowdhury who resigned from the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to form a new party, Bikalpa Dhara, last year has returned to Parliament from Munshiganj-1 constituency. Mahi polled 76,598 votes to defeat BNP’S Momin Ali. Election watchers and human rights organizations alleged rigging in the by-election.
Odhikhar, a coalition for human rights organizations, said in a press release that a large number of fake votes were cast. Brotee, a local election monitoring group, said the election was characterized by intimidation of the minority Hindu community, low turnout, partisan roles of the administration and expulsion of opposition candidates’ polling agents from booths.
Mahi, a graduate in political science from California University at Santa Clara in the United States, went into politics following his father and grandfather when he joined the BNP. He was elected to Parliament on the BNP platform in 2002 after his father became president.
When the unofficial results were announced, Mahi said the Bikalpa Dhara had started its victory from the soil of Munshiganj and would continue across the country. “It’s just the beginning. It’s a verdict against the intolerable misrule and corruption of the BNP-led government.”
Momin, who lost the election, accused the Bikalpa Dhara of controlling some polling centers and casting false votes. He alleged the Bikalpa Dhara had driven his agents out of some centers.
Badruddoza, Mahi’s father called his son’s victory a public verdict against criminal activities, unbridled corruption and price hikes during the four-party alliance government’s rule.
“The people of Munshiganj gave a verdict against the misdeeds of the government on behalf of the masses of the country,” he said.