Public suffering heightened as supporters halt traffic defying the candidate’s request
Several pickup vans with loudspeakers, cars, and motorcycles campaigned for Awami League backed Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) mayoral aspirant Atiqul Islam, in Dhaka’s major streets from Khilgaon to Banani on Monday, inconveniencing commuters.
Dozens of motorcycles and at least 40 cars – one with Atiqul – joined the rally, making it an enormous motorcade. A huge number of leaders, activists and followers also participated, mostly on foot.
The campaign halted traffic on its way to Banani, causing immense suffering to commuters and pedestrians despite the candidate’s request to his followers to not disrupt traffic.
Joining the campaign, supporters of Atiqul chanted slogans and danced on the road.
Flanked by local unit leaders and campaign officials, Atiqul was waving his hands from a convertible, seeking votes for the “boat,” his election symbol for the city polls slated for January 30.
He started the campaign drive from Khilgaon’s Taltola Market premises around 12pm, where Awami League’s Dhaka North city unit leaders organized a huge gathering of activists, young and old, before heading for Banani.
After addressing the media, he visited shopkeepers and customers in the market, exchanging greetings and seeking votes.
He alleged that his BNP counterpart Tabith Awal has been violating the electoral code of conduct since the allotment of symbols to all six mayoral aspirants on Friday.
“While campaigning, we are following the electoral code of conduct, but the BNP candidate is defying it. We believe in democracy. We feel that those who are pleased with our work will vote for us,” Atiqul said.
Promising a healthy, vibrant, and modern Dhaka, if elected, he said: “The ‘boat’ is the symbol of development, and we have to vote for ‘boat’ again to get it going."
Soon afterwards, the convoy of pickup vans, cars, and motorbikes choked the streets through Matir Masjid, Abul Hotel, and Malibagh Chowdhurypara, all the way to Banani.
This correspondent followed the campaign from 12pm to 2:30pm, when vehicular movement came to a standstill on the road stretching from Khilgaon to Badda.
The situation worsened after supporters on foot joined the campaign, as it was moving very slowly.
On their way, they distributed leaflets to pedestrians and people in cars and bikes.
When the convoy was passing the DIT Road near Rampura Bazar, Atiqul urged them not to create any trouble with other vehicles and pedestrians.
He said: “We do not want to create any public suffering by halting traffic.”
But the unruly mob hardly paid attention to his courteous call and continued harassing passersby.
After a lunch break at Badda Alatunnesa School, the rally continued and ended at Banani, said Atiqul’s Deputy Publications Secretary Azijul Haque Rana.