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Why BNP lost the battle in Gazipur

  • Published at 01:32 am June 28th, 2018
  • Last updated at 01:33 am June 28th, 2018
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Hasan Uddin Sarker, the BNP candidate of Gazipur City Corporation election, hold a press conference during the balloting hours to express his dissatisfaction over the Election Commission's role in conducting the election on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

While the BNP is blaming irregularities and vote manipulation, many local leaders and voters think that failures of the last BNP mayor, MA Mannan, in developing the city contributed largely to Hasan's failure

Despite the good credentials of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party's (BNP) candidate Hasan Uddin Sarker, who is a freedom fighter, a workers' leader and former MP, voters of Gazipur sided with the 39-year-old Awami League Jahangir Alam in the Gazipur City Corporation (GCC) election.

While the BNP is blaming irregularities and vote manipulation, many local leaders and voters think that failures of the last BNP mayor, MA Mannan, in developing the city contributed largely to Hasan's failure.

By July last year Mannan had spent almost two years of his term in jail.

This correspondent spoke to people from different quarters who said the voting atmosphere was fair, but people had heard the allegations of balloting and stuffing within the polling centres.

A local BNP leader, asking not to be named, said: “Polling agents were in the centres, but the activists were not active in monitoring the election scenario.”

In the first Gazipur election in 2013, BNP performed well in Joydebpur, but since MA Mannan was not a candidate this time and was not active in Gazipur campaigning BNP did not perform well, said locals.

BNP also failed to woo industrial workers this time as former mayor MA Mannan failed to perform his duties properly.

In conversation with the Dhaka Tribune, BNP leaders and activists said their candidate failed to win because of “biased behaviour from the Election Commission (EC), administration's obvious favouring of Awami League, and mass arrest by police.”

They claimed that Awami League activists cast fake votes for Jahangir after they drove out BNP agents from polling centres. Questioning the role of law enforcement agencies during electoral period, they alleged that BNP leaders and activists were beaten by plainclothes police outside the centres.

The BNP has demanded cancellation of the poll and demanded re-election in the area.

BNP candidate Hasan Uddin Sarker said: “This was not an election. I will go to court demanding cancellation of the election.”

Voters from Tongi and Joydebpur area told this correspondent they had not seen any major development work done by their mayor in the last five years.

“The former mayor has not worked for the area's worst problems like waste management, traffic jam, road development or other city development work,” said Kazi Azimuddin College teacher Mohsin Kabir.

However, the BNP candidate Hasan Uddin Sarker is not ready to take these issues into cognizance.

According to him, vote stuffing took place in 400 out of 425 polling centres and there were massive irregularities including vote rigging, ballot stuffing, and assault on his agents in more than 100 polling centres.

For him: “The victory was for BNP, if only the election was fair.”

He sees lack of a level playing field, mass arrest of their activists by plainclothes police, and violation of electoral code of conduct as the reasons behind his failure.

However, Gazipur Returning Officer Rakib Uddin Mondal said that no complaint has been filed on the arrests of BNP activists without any reason.

In the Gazipur City Corporation election held on Tuesday, Awami League candidate Jahangir Alam bagged 400,010 votes while his closest rival BNP’s Hasan Uddin Sarker got 197,611 votes.