The BNP-led 18-party backed-mayoral runners of the four city corporations that go to polls on Saturday are confident of coming out winners as they think people are quite likely to demonstrate their grievances against the current regime through the ballot, but they are equally skeptical about fair balloting.
Talking to UNB, the four mayoral contenders — Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul (Rajshahi City Corporation), Moniruzzaman Moni (Khulna City Corporation), Ahsan Habib Kamal, (Barisal City Corporation) and Ariful Haque Chowdhury (Sylhet City Corporation), the EC should have deployed army for ensuring fair casting of votes.
Bringing allegations that the local administrations are harassing their supporters and trying to influence the elections in favour of the ruling alliance-supported candidates, they said if the government tries to manipulate the polls they will create a strong resistance together with people.
“I’ll surely win with a big margin if people can freely exercise their franchise,” the opposition alliance-backed Rajshahi City Corporation mayoral contender Bulbul told the news agency on Friday.
Asked what makes him so confident about his good show, Bulbul claimed he is much more people friendly compared to his main rival ruling alliance-backed candidate AHM Khairuzzaman Liton. Besides, he said, there’ll have a direct impact of national politics on the polls as people got fed-up with the misdeeds, corruption, repression, terrorism and politicisation by the government.
He alleged that the police in the name of special drives harassed his supporters at least in 15 wards on Thursday night to terrorise them. “The consequence won’t be good if the government tries to manipulate the polls.”
Khulna City Corporation 18-party backed mayoral runner Moniruzzaman Moni said if the election is held in a free and fair manner, he will have a landslide victory. “Though it’s a local body election, national politics will play the key role in determining the results. People will vote for me as they’re annoyed with the government and because of corruption and misdeeds and poor performance by the immediate-past mayor.”
He is highly sceptical about fair election as what he said the local administration, the Election Commission and police are playing a biased rule towards the ruling party-backed candidate.
Moni alleged that police are arresting and harassing the opposition leaders and activists. “No illegal arms have been recovered and criminal arrested. I demanded army deployment, but the EC didn’t pay heed to it. I’m in the race as I’m counting on my voters.”
He said he will welcome his rival candidate if he comes out success through a free and fair election, He, however, warned that if the election is manipulated, the opposition along with people will reject the results and wage a tougher movement.
“There’s no reason for my defeat unless the government persuade the polls. I’m sure more than hundred percent about my victory,” said Barisal City Corporation opposition alliance-supported mayoral contender Ahsan Habib Kamal.
He said people will cast votes for him in protest against the government’s all-pervasive corruption, anti-Islam stance, repression and oppression on people and the immediate-past mayor’s plundering of public money in the name of development.
Voicing his serious doubt over the government’s intention to hold a fair election, Kamal said police have started arresting his supporters and innocent people and implicating them in ‘false’ cases. “Police opened fire on me which hit my bodyguard, leaving him seriously wounded. The ruling party men are flexing their muscles. As the EC didn’t deploy army as per our demand, I’m apprehending polls manipulation.”
“If people elect the ruling-party backed candidate through a free and fair election, I’ll surely welcome him. But if I get defected through vote rigging or manipulating the polls, I won’t only reject it, but also launch a oust-government movement together with people from Barisal.”
Sylhet City Corporation Mayoral contender Ariful Haque Chowdhury said, “My victory is for sure as people want a change and they’re evaluating my role in development of the city.”
Like three other opposition-backed candidates, he fears manipulation of the election, saying the ruling party men may capture some 88 voting centres out of 128. He once again demanded deployment of army for ensuring fair polls.
Arif urged the media to keep a strong vigilance on the polls so that no one can influence the polls and snatch people’s verdict.