Electioneering starts amid festivity, irregularities

1,745 partisan, 96 independent candidates get symbols; AL, allies: AL 255, JP 29, WP 5, JSD 3, JP(M) 2, TF 2, BJSD 1, BDB 3; BNP allies: BNP 241, Jamaat 22, GF 7, LDP 4, JSD 4, KSJL 4, JUI 3, Khelafat Majlish 2, JP(Z) 2, Kalyan Party 1, BJP 1, BLP 1, NPP

Clockwise from top left, Awami League-led grand alliance candidate is being given the party symbol ‘plough’ at the divisional headquarter in Dhaka 4 constituency, Awami League grand alliance candidate for Dhaka 8 Rashed Khan Menon leads a procession at Baily Road, electoral posters are being published at a printing press in Fakirapool, election graffiti on a wall in front of Rokaya Hall violating electoral code of conduct, BNP candidate Afroza Abbas for Dhaka 9 distributing leaflet at Shahjahanpur. — New Age photos

Ahammad Foyez
Candidates for the December 30 general election started electioneering across the country on Monday with festivity and amidst reported violations of electoral code of conduct after the returning officers allocated electoral symbols among the 1,839 candidates.
The ruling Awami League announced that party president Sheikh Hasina would formally launch the party’s election campaign at Tungipara in Gopalganj on Wednesday.
Main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said that candidates of the party and its two alliances — the BNP-led alliance and the Jatiya Oikya Front — already started campaigning after getting electoral symbol.
At a press conference at BNP chairperson’s Gulshan office in Dhaka, he said that the party was yet to decide about formal launch of the electioneering.
At a news conference at party president’s Dhanmondi office, AL joint general secretary Jahangir Kabir Nanak said that party president Sheikh Hasina, also the prime minister, will go to Tungipara Wednesday morning by road and she would start formal electioneering after paying tribute to country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Till 9:30pm on Monday, the Election Commission officials failed to provide the compilation of final candidates in the 11th parliamentary elections.
According to the draft compilation made by the commission 1,841 candidates — 1,745 nominated by parties and alliances and 96 independent ones — were in the race and got allocation of electoral symbols on Modnay.
The Awami League shared 29 of the 300 seats with the Jatiya Party and 16 seats with six of its other allies while it kept 258 for its own.
BNP shared 59 seats with its allies — Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami 22, Gono Forum 7, Liberal Democratic Party 4, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-JSD 4, Krishak Sramik Janata League 4, Jamiat-e Ulema-e Islam 3, Khelafat Majlish 2, Bangladesh Kalyan Party 1 and Bangladesh Jatiya Party-BJP 1.
The High Court on Monday directed the commission to allow 10 candidates, including convicted BNP leaders Iqbal Hasan Mahmood Tuku and Ruhul Quddus Talukder Dulu, to contest the elections.
During the hearing in their petitions against rejection of their nominations, the court asked attorney general Mahbubey Alam how the nomination papers of ruling AL candidate Mohammad Selim and independent candidate Nazmul Huda were declared valid as they were also convicted and sentenced.
The bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Razik-Al-Jalil, however, rejected writ petition of convicted BNP Khagrachari leader Abdul Wadud Bhuiyan.
The bench allowed eight other candidates, including Ashraful Hossen Alam also known as Hero Alam, to contest the elections.
Chief election commissioner KM Nurul Huda on Monday instructed judicial magistrates to act neutrally to gain people’s confidence and ensure a fair general election.
Briefing the judicial magistrates at the commission headquarters, he asked the judicial magistrates to exercise their powers in election duties with free, fair and judicious mind and as per the constitution and law.
Some 600 magistrates will perform duty between December 29 and January 1 to ensure a fair election atmosphere.
At the same programme, election commissioner Mahbub Talukder said that it was their aim to make sure that no candidate went to the parliament without confirming their win through votes.
Opposition BNP and its allies alleged that their activists were harassed by police and ruling AL activists at places across the country.
In Jamalpur, at least 10 people, including AL leaders Syed Tauhidul Islam and Imran Hossain, were injured as local AL and BNP leaders and activists clashed in Hazrat Shah Kamal Shrine area under Melandah when Melandah BNP candidate Mostafizur Rahman Babul went there to offer prayer after getting election symbol at about 12:30pm.
Melandah police station officer-in-charge Kazi Sakhawat Hossain said that additional cops were deployed in the area to keep the situation under control.
In Feni, AL candidate for Feni 2 Nizam Uddin Hazari went to the district returning officer’s office with a procession of hundreds of leaders and activists carrying their party election symbol boat’s replica and beating drams to collect his election symbol, violating electoral code of conduct.
BNP candidate for Munshiganj 1 Shah Moazzem Hossain sent a letter to the commission on Monday urging it to ensure security for him and his supporters in his electoral area.
In his letter, BNP vice-chairman Shah Moazzem, claimed that about 15-20 miscreants swooped on him and his followers at Kuchiamora of Sirajdikhan upazila in Munshiganj Saturday afternoon.
The miscreants opened fire at him in order to kill when his supporters sustained severe injuries as they tried to prevent the miscreants, he said.
After submitting the letter, Shah Moazzem told reporters at the commission that there was no level playing field for all candidates in his constituency.
He alleged that police did not come forward to protect them during Saturday’s attack.
BNP candidate from Dhaka 2 Irfan Ibne Aman, also son of BNP leader Amanullah Aman, sent a letter to the commission on Monday demanding withdrawal of the Kamrangirchar police station officer-in-charge alleging that he got engaged in campaign for the candidate of a certain party.
New Age staff correspondent in Chattogram reported that at a press conference at Chattogram Press Club, BNP and its alliance leaders alleged that their candidates had been getting threat to leave the country ahead of the elections.
New Age staff correspondent in Sylhet reported that BNP candidate for Sylhet 6 Faysal Ahmad Chowdhury on Monday alleged that the police started arresting his party leaders and activists ahead of the elections to create panic among them as well as voters.
The law enforcers were also conducting rampant drives at homes of local leaders of the BNP and its front organisations in every night without any specific allegation and threatened them of dire consequence if they did not leave the area immediately, he alleged.
In Khulna, police barred BNP leaders and activists when they, after getting election symbol, tried to bring out a procession from its Khulna office at KD Ghosh Road at about noon.
They locked in an altercation with police when they were barred but later went back to the office premises and later brought out a procession in the afternoon.
BNP organising secretary and candidate for Khulna 2 Nazrul Islam Monju said that he and Khulna 3 candidate Rakibul Islam Bakul came to the party office and tried to bring out a procession but were barred.
Khulna sadar police station officer-in-charge Humayun Kabir said that the returning officer had instructed them that the candidates would be allowed to bring out processions after 2:00pm.

Source: New Age.