Chittagong city election will be held on January 27
With just four days to voting in Chittagong City Corporation polls, tension is running high as the electoral violence continues to show no signs of ceasing.
Awami League and BNP have been engaged in a blame game over electoral violence.
BNP alleged that the ruling party is out to foil the polls, using the law enforcement agencies in its favour.
On the other hand, Awami League alleged that BNP wants to make the polls questionable by leveling false allegations.
Meanwhile, BNP-nominated mayoral candidate Dr Shahadat Hossain submitted an 8-point demand to the Returning Officer Md Hasanuzzaman to ensure a free, credible, and acceptable election.
The demands include checking NIDs to prevent outsiders on the voter queue and withdrawing cases filed against BNP men.
BNP Standing Committee member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, speaking at a press conference at BNP’s Nasiman Bhaban office on Thursday, alleged that Awami League created such a situation so that the voters lose interest in the polls and do not go to the polling centres.
Dismissing the allegations, Awami League’s Chittagong City Vice President Ibrahim Hossain Chowdhury said that the BNP wants to make the election questionable by lodging fabricated allegations.
Complaints piling up at EC
As of January 21, the Election Commission had received as many as 53 electoral complaints – mostly from the councillor candidates – for creating obstruction to the electoral campaigns.
Eleven complaints were lodged on behalf of BNP-backed mayoral candidate Dr Shahadat Hossain while three complaints were lodged on behalf of AL-backed mayoral M Rezaul Karim Chowdhury.
The remaining 39 complaints were lodged by the councilor candidates for general and reserved seats.
No end to violence
BNP-backed mayoral candidate’s electoral campaigns have come under attack on two occasions since the electioneering resumed.
On January 20, miscreants blasted locally made bombs and vandalized vehicles at BNP’s Nasiman Bhaban office.
On January 20, 140 BNP men were sued and eight of them were arrested in three cases lodged with three police stations in the city.
On January 12, four days after the electioneering campaign resumed, two councilor candidates – ruling party and rebel candidate – engaged in a gunfight at Pathantuli area that left a man dead.
On January 15, the supporters of two councilor candobstruction to the electoral campaignsidates locked into a clash at Lalkhan Bazar area that left five injured.
Previously, on March 18 last year, the supporters of two councillor candidates locked into a clash leaving a man dead.
‘People losing faith in voting’
Expressing grave concern over the rising electoral violence, Advocate Akhtar Kabir Chowdhury, president of Chittagong city unit of Sacheton Nagorik Committee, under Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), said that the Election Commission, administration, and the political parties should come forward to ensure an atmosphere conducive to the polls.
“People are increasingly becoming doubtful and apprehensive about polls. It will have a damaging impact on democracy if the voters lose their interest in the polls,” he said.
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“We do not want any further electoral violence. We expect that voters will exercise their voting rights without any fear and return home safely,” he added.
Returning Officer (RO) Md Hasanuzzaman said that they remained alert to avert any untoward incident centring the polls.
Chittagong Metropolitan Police (CMP) Commissioner Saleh Md Tanvir said that they have beefed up vigilance so that the law-and-order situation does not deteriorate during the polls.
This time seven mayoral candidates and 172 councillor candidates for 40 general wards and 57 councillors for the reserved seat for women have entered the fray.