BNP mayoral candidates and the Awami League rebels fear widespread violence and vote rigging during the municipal election on December 30 as they alleged that ruling party candidates and their supporters have started intimidating them and voters.
Talking to UNB, 36 mayoral runners -- 26 of BNP and 10 AL rebels — in the country’s seven divisions also alleged that they could not yet gear up their election campaigns as their supporters cannot came up for electioneering in fear of arrest and getting implicated in ‘false’ cases or falling victim to reprisal.
Most of them accused the law enforcers, including police and plainclothes ones, of directly working in favour of ruling party candidates and creating panic in the election areas so that people other than Awami League supporters cannot visit polling stations, UNB reports.
They are also unhappy with the Election Commission’s role as they think it is not taking proper action against the ruling party men who are continuously violating the election code of conduct.
Under the circumstances, the opposition candidates and AL dissidents think a free and fair election will not be possible without army deployment.
“My posters are being damaged at night while the ruling party men are threatening my supporters to implicate them in false cases. Though there’s no direct pressure on me, my party men are under immense pressure. If army is not deployed, there’ll be massive violence and irregularities on the polling day,” BNP mayoral candidate of Sirajganj Municipality Mokaddes Ali told UNB.
“The ruling party men are violating the election code of conduct every minute. It seems laws and election rules are only applicable for opposition candidates,” said Kamal Udddin Chowdhury, BNP mayoral candidate of Noakhali’s Bashurhat municipality.
Kamal, who is contesting the election against Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader’s younger brother and AL mayoral candidate Abul Quader Mirza, said he fears his opponents will intensify terrorist activities two days before the polls as they did it during the past elections. “We don’t get any remedy from the local administration.”
Awami League rebel mayoral runner of Jamalpur’s Dewanganj municipality Sheikh Mohammad Nurunnabi, said, “I’m really disturbed with the unruly activities by ruling party men. They confined my six female campaigners to a home toady. They’re later rescued by police.”
He said the ruling party men are frightening the voters not to go to polling stations, sensing their sure defeat. “I’m very popular in my area and I’ll come out successful if the election is held fairly.”
Nurunnabi also alleged that DB police men are also trying to terrify his campaigners threatening them with arrest in false cases.
About the election code of conduct violation by ruling party men, Rajbari municipality BNP mayoral contestant said, “The Election Commission is not working neutrally. The ruling party men brought out a huge procession today violating the election code of conduct.”
Meherpur’s Gagni municipality AL rebel contestant Ashraful Islam said law enforcers are playing an active role in favour of ruling party candidates. “They’re harassing my supporters and asking them to be inactive if they want to avoid arrest.”
Chuaddang’s Jibonnagr municipality AL rebel mayoral runner Jahangir Alam said he wants the Election Commission to work independently and neutrally to ensure credible and accepted polls. “The commission should treat all candidates and parties equally so that voters don’t get negative impression about the polls.
Shaheduzzaman, Gaibandha municipality BNP mayoral candidate, said he fears of a serious violence on the voting day as the ruling party men are campaigning that the AL candidate will be elected mayor ‘no matter whether the voters vote him or not’.
Contacted, Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Md Zabed Ali said they are taking every possible measure to ensure a fair election.
He also said they are working sincerely so that the polls can be held in a peaceful and congenial atmosphere without any violence and irregularities.