The Election Commission has received a record number of appeals by parliamentary aspirants whose nomination papers were rejected by returning officers.
A total of 318 appeals have been filed since Monday. The number is set to increase today, the deadline for submitting the petitions.
Until now, the highest number of appeals was filed in 2008 when 300 of 565 rejected aspirants appealed, EC officials said.
This time, the ROs rejected 786 nomination papers on December 2.
An EC statement said conviction in cases, defaulting on loans and not paying utility service bills were among the reasons why the candidacies were cancelled.
On Monday, the first day of the three-day window for filing appeals, 84 aspirants appealed while the rest were filed yesterday.
The EC will start hearing the appeals tomorrow and continue until Saturday.
Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukder said the hearing would be fair.
“We will be neutral during the hearing,” he told reporters after visiting the desks set up in front of the Nirbachan Bhaban for receiving the appeals.
The rejected aspirants include heavyweight candidates BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, Jatiya Party Secretary General Ruhul Amin Hawlader and Krishak Sramik Janata League President Kader Siddique.
Some of the rejected aspirants said their papers were not scrutinised by the ROs in a fair manner.
Fahima Hossain, BNP nominee for Dhaka-1, said, “The returning officers have cancelled nominations with the motive of keeping the BNP away from election.”
Sarkar Badal, an independent for Bogura-7 and an upazila parishad chairman in Bogura, said, “The government did not issue any circular restricting upazila parishad chairmen [from contesting the election]. So, I filed my nomination papers without resigning from my post. But my nomination has been cancelled…. I will go to court.”
Contacted, a joint secretary of the EC said a circular prohibiting such candidacies had been issued and officials had talked about the matter multiple times in press conferences.
According to EC schedule, December 9 is the last day for withdrawing from the race.