Fear grips opposition candidates, voters as well
Opposition candidates are concerned and voters doubtful about a fair election, while the minorities are in fear of post-poll violence, following repeated attacks allegedly by the ruling party men.
Almost all opposition candidates in all 11 constituencies in Mymensing and six constituencies in Sirajganj told Prothom Alo that their activists are being attacked by the Awami League activists and they are facing obstruction during their election campaign.
The members of the minority community, who experienced a post-poll violence after the lopsided 5 January general elections in 2014, expressed apprehensions of recurrence of such violence this time as well.
If the elections are held in a fair manner, results in all the 11 constituencies of Mymensingh will be different from the rigged ones, a private employee in the town but a resident of Tarakananda upazila, said.
The voter is just doubtful about a fair election.
However, the administration officials are confident about holding a fair poll in Mymensingh. The officials said the candidates of both the camps are not facing campaign difficulties as, they claimed, there is a relatively low rate of election violence in the district.
But, the BNP leaders alleged, the election atmosphere is still not peaceful there as their leaders and activists are under pressure and spending days in fear.
The AL’s joint general secretary Kazi Azad Jahan is confident about his party’s victory as he said popularity of the ‘boat’ is ‘always high’ in Mymensingh.
BNP leaders in Mymensingh-2 constituency said the party candidate is under pressure after filing of cases and arrest of leaders and workers following a clash at the beginning of election campaign.
AL leaders in Mymensingh-3, where the AL’s Nazim Uddin Ahmed and the BNP’s M Iqbal Hossain, are contesting, said if the election is fair, the contest will be harder.
In the key constituency of Myanmensign-4, the AL-led alliance nominated Jatiya Party co-chairperson Rowshan Ershad as the candidate of the grand alliance.
BNP leaders said they did not face much obstruction at the beginning, but once campaign gets momentum, the AL camp increased their activities, creating difficulties.
AL leaders alleged that the BNP leaders and activists have suddenly become violent.
Opposition confined to chaos
Sirajganj town has witnessed a vibrant canvassing — huge number of posters here and there, electronic campaigns and many rallies. However, it all is in favour of the ruling party candidates.
This is the common scene in all constituencies.
Asked about election campaign, BNP candidate of Sirajganj-2 Rumana Mahmud, wife of former BNP minister Iqbal Hasan Madmud, said, “Our activists are being beaten. Whenever we plan to go out for campaign, we first inform the police and then go out with the police protection”.
Asked about the allegation, Sirajganj-2 constituency’s AL candidate Habibe Millat said, “This is the political rhetoric. I’m a physician. I’ve no idea of it.”
Asked about the matter, citizens’ group Shujan’s Sirajganj district unit general secretary Helal Ahmed said, “We want an environment free from fear so that everybody can vote peacefully. That is rather absent.”
The AL has fielded some stalwarts in Sirajganj — heath minister Mohammad Nasim for Sirajganj-1, Habibe Millat, son-in-law of LGRD minister Khandakar Mosharaff Hossain in Sirajganj-2, Tanvir Imam, son of the prime minister political affairs adviser HT Imam at Sirajganj-4 and director of Dhaka Shishu Hospital Abdul Aziz.
Local voters said many things are happening behind the scenes to ensure victory of the AL’s ‘heavy-weight candidates’. That is why, they added, the BNP candidates are failing to campaign.
BNP candidate in Sirajaganj-1 singer Rumana Morshed Kanak Chapa alleged that her leaders and activists are being threatened and election campaign is obstructed.
She said the complaints were raised to the authorities concerned who assured her of taking action.
Each candidate of the opposition camp alleged that their activists are being attacked by the AL men.
District returning officer Kamrunnahar said, “I’m sending every complaint to the authorities concerned. But, they are not telling me anything about that.”
Election festivity missing in Malopara, Jessore
Called as Malopara in Bangla, the fishermen community has 115 families consisting of around 700 members, in Chapatala village of Abhaynagar upazila, on the bank of Bhairab river.
Prothom Alo on Sunday talked to some of the community members across ages and gender, who expressed their concern.
The community members, who have 400 eligible voters, alleged that four of the attackers in 2014 are now campaigning for the AL candidate Ranajir Kumar Ray.
One of them is said to be a member of the AL candidate’s electioneering committee.
One of the attackers is Md Qamruzzaman, whom the AL MP Ranajit commended as an ‘eminent social worker, politician and educationist’, the local people said.
When contacted, Qamruzzaman told Prothom Alo that he is an AL member and he was not involved in the attack. He claimed that he was victim of conspiracy and sent to jail.
The community people said some of their members have left home fearing violence. Their return depends on the post-polls situation, they added.
*This reports is a compilation of three reports filed by Shirir Moral and Masud Alam from Jessore, Kamrul Hasan and Sajedul Alam from Sirajganj, Moshtaq Ahmed and Kamran Parvez from Mymensingh. It has been rewritten by Toriqul Islam