6th Upazila Parishad Elections

Evidence Says Grassroots Politics Dominated by Politics for Profit

Published: 27 May 2024

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has released new data demonstrating the persistent influence of business interests, political nepotism, and profit-driven motives in grassroots politics in Bangladesh. This revelation comes from the latest analysis of affidavits submitted by candidates in the 3rd phase of the 6th Upazila Parishad Elections, released on 27 May 2024.

TIB's findings indicate a troubling trend where positions of power are linked to significant wealth accumulation for public representatives and their families.

Analysis of candidates from the first, second, and third phases of the elections reveals that incumbents have experienced substantial wealth gains compared to newcomers. This underscores the assertion that holding public office is increasingly seen as a "license to abuse power," facilitating personal and business enrichment.

Another alarming aspect highlighted by TIB is the potential underreporting of income by candidates, seemingly to evade taxes. Nearly 37% of candidates claim to have no taxable income, raising serious concerns about transparency and accountability.

Furthermore, the infiltration of business interests into local elections has created conflicts of interest, with political power often being leveraged to support business ventures.

Dr. Iftekharuzzaman, TIB's Executive Director, commented on this worrying trend: "The presence of public interest in public representation has become rare, allowing personal interests to flourish through the abuse of power. While it is natural for business professionals to enter politics, the concern lies in whether their participation aligns with the right political processes and serves public welfare. The current scenario suggests that profit-oriented motives are driving businessmen's interest in politics."

TIB's "Know Your Candidate" (KYC) dashboard, a critical tool used for analyzing the affidavits, acts as a vital data repository for regulatory bodies tasked with ensuring accountability, transparency, and integrity in public office. TIB emphasizes the need for thorough investigations by the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to uncover potential tax evasion among election candidates.

Additionally, TIB urges the NBR, Election Commission, and Anti-Corruption Commission to proactively verify the legitimacy of the information provided in candidates' affidavits. Ensuring that reported incomes and assets are consistent with legal sources is imperative for maintaining good governance in Bangladesh's local governance system.

To protect election integrity and advance grassroots good governance, TIB urges all pertinent authorities to look into these facts in great detail.

The KYC dashboard and other documents can be accessed here - https://ti-bangladesh.org/kyc