BNP claims of threats from Awami League
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has expressed concerns about election engineering and vote rigging in the Rajshahi City Corporation polls despite assurances of a level playing field from the Election Commission.
The Election Commission and law enforcement agencies have emphasized their commitment to holding a free, fair, and transparent election.
BNP mayoral candidate and incumbent mayor Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul claimed that members of the law enforcement agencies along with Awami League activists -- have been continuously threatening his party’s activists.
“Twenty-four polling agents of ours are missing since Saturday night. They might have run away because of the threats,” Mosaddek Hossain said.
A complaint has been submitted to the returning officer’s office in this regard. However, the returning officer was not present at the time.
BNP has submitted more than 50 complaints since the first day of the election campaign.
On the other hand, Awami League candidate AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, who served as mayor from 2008-2013, said: “BNP has a shortage of polling agents because they are suffering from internal conflicts.”
“We are hopeful that the Election Commission will hold free and fair polls, and we do not have any doubts about that,” he added.
However, BNP mayoral candidate Mosaddek Hossain said: “The Election Commission and law enforcement agencies are being prepared for conducting a partial election to make the Awami League candidate win.”
Both Awami League and BNP candidates are supposed to cast their votes at same polling centre at Rajshahi Upashahar Institute.
Returning Officer Aminul Islam said: “I am totally confident about holding a free and fair election. We have made all the necessary arrangements for the polls.”
Though Awami League has mitigated internal conflicts among its local leaders, the BNP leaders still have not solved theirs.
The family members of local BNP leaders generally take part in the election campaigns, but the wives of BNP Chairperson's Advisor Mizanur Rahman Minu and local BNP General Secretary Shafiqul Haque did not take part in the campaign this year because of internal conflicts.
However, the Mizanur Rahman Minu, who was elected as Rajshahi mayor in 2002, denied allegations of such internal conflict.
A total of 318,138 voters are expected to participate in the polls in Rajshahi to elect a mayor for a five-year term.
Around 101,000 voter are settlers from the Chapainawabganj district. These voters will become a prime factor in the polls.
“These voters will always support the BNP,” claimed BNP leader Shafiqul Islam.
On the other hand, Awami League leaders claimed the settlers will vote for their candidate because the government has developed infrastructure for easy connectivity between Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj.
“The people of Chapainawabganj will be with Awami League,” said Ziaur Rahman, vice president of Chapainawabganj Awami League.
“Khairuzzaman Liton's wife's residence is in Chapainawabganj,” he added.
The local people of the city said they want a green and clean city. Those who can make the city livable will get their support, they said.
“We do not see any chance of development in the city if Khairuzzaman becomes mayor again. He did not do anything during his last tenure from 2008 to 2013,” said a student of Rajshahi University.
“The national election is supposed to be held in December. If BNP wins the election, it will develop the city following a master plan. We are participating in the polls as a step in our efforts to regain democracy ahead of the national election,” Mosaddek Hossain said.
Rajshahi city polls at a glance
A total of 318,138 voters are expected to cast their votes in the city corporation polls of 2018.
A total of 950 members of police, 450 members of Rapid Action Battalion, 450 member of Border Guard Bangladesh, and 1,975 members of Ansar will be deployed on election day.
There are a total of 136 polling centers, of which 114 have been marked as vulnerable or risky.
There are 160 general councilor candidates contesting for 30 posts, while 52 women are vying for 10 seats reserved for women.