ASMG_4368A(1)

Union Parishad Election 2011

The Union Federation is a local development organisation of the rural poor for advancement through collective efforts. RDRS Bangladesh facilitated the formation and gradual  progress of the Union Federation  through capacity- building and leadership development  of representatives  of the poor. RDRS initiated this thrust move of organising the disadvantaged rural poor in 1989.

The Union Federation has now been nationally and internationally recognised as a model development  approach. The Federation  platform helps the poor achieve  their  rights  and  inspires  the  Federation  leaders  to  represent  their people in the local government  and other institutions  and thus work in the greater interests of the poor. As a part of this course of action, the several Federation members contested in the Union Parishad election this year and a significant number of them have been successfully elected.

The Union Parishad (UP) is the lowest tier of the local government structure in Bangladesh. It comprises 13 members including Chairman, three members of seats reserved for woman and nine general members, elected by the direct vote  of  local  inhabitants.  A  total  of  1,430  members  from  343  Union Federations  of  343  unions  of nine  northern  Districts  took  part  in  the  UP Election 2011. Of them, 559 were elected. And 27 Federation members were elected  to  the  position  of Chairman,  218  to  the  reserved  sets  for  woman members and 314 as general members.

This  success  is  a  milestone  in  the  advancement   of  the  rural  poor.  A significant number of Federation members are going to represent the deprived poor in the local government institution.

Experience has made Federation leaders realise that changes in the life of the poor depends on the competence and attitude of the public representatives. Those to the UP body by virtue of their money and social influence, simply exercise  power  for  their  own  narrow  interests  and  the  interests  of  their sycophants    and   supporters.   Such   a   biased    mindset    leads   hampers development.

The common voters are unaware of their rights as well as the role and responsibilities of the local government. They are ignorant about the budget of UP and its utilisation or about the duties of different standing committees under  UP.  They  have  no  idea  how  to  prevent  and  protest  against  the corruption  or  illegal  action  of  the  public  representatives.  This  can  never ensure  accountability   of  local  government.   It  weakens   democracy   and governance and hinders socio-economic development.

To overcome these difficulties and obstacles, the Federations feel that they need to establish their representation in the Union Parishad. This enables poor people to raise their voices, can ensure critical engagement of the poor in local government, make pro-poor participatory budgeting, planning and allocation of safety net schemes. Through this, the 13 different standing committees would be activated so that they can play a significant role in establishing pro-poor and participatory governance in the Union Parishads.

A  total  of  224  members  from  260  Union  Federations  in  seven  northern Districts were elected in the UP election of 2003. By dint of their sincerity and  actions,  these  224  won  repute  as  pro-poor  UP  leaders.  Federation members believe that Federation leaders elected to UP are committed to establishing the rights of the poor. Accordingly, they prepared to participate in  the  next  UP  election  which  was  supposed  to  be  held  in  2008.  They underwent detailed planning to compete in the election, nominating suitable candidates who were trusted by the federation members, who had leadership qualities, honesty, accountability and so on.

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