Incumbent lawmaker Fazle Hossain Badsha was elected by default in the last polls
Six constituencies of Rajshahi- a district with a rich history-- are experiencing the thrill of the 11th parliamentary election slated for Sunday.
Voters of Rajshahi 2 (Rajshahi City Corporation area) missed out a lot in the previous election, as the incumbent lawmaker Fazle Hossain Badsha was elected by default in the 10th general polls held on January 5, 2014.
Badsha, a two-time lawmaker nominated by Awami League-led grand alliance, is optimistic about securing a hat-trick win in Rajshahi 2 constituency.
Central Joint Secretary of BNP and former Rajshahi mayor Mizanur Rahman Minu is the only other heavyweight candidate contesting from the same constituency.
On Thursday, which was the final day for electioneering, Minu’s supporters paraded the city with at least ten three-wheelers, asking voters to support the Sheaf of Paddy symbol.
Badsha spent the by organizing multiple rallies, playing songs and asking voters to support the Boat symbol.
Rajshahi 1 constituency
Candidate for Sheaf of Paddy in Rajshahi 1 (Tanor-Godagari), Barrister Aminul Haque claimed that candidate for the Boat symbol, Omar Faruk Chowdhury, has vandalized and torched his election camps.
“Faruk’s cadres used petrol to torch our camps as he realized his certain defeat in the election. We filed a complaint with the local returning officer, but no action has been taken yet. We will hold our position until the last ballot is cast,” he added.
Meanwhile, denying the allegations, Omar Faruk said: “My opponent Aminul is patronizing militants who were previously trained by Bangla Bhai. He is trying to create unrest among the voters. He will try to attack the voting centers in a bid to damage the election atmosphere.”
Faruk urged the people to stay alert during the Voting Day.
Rajshahi 2 constituency
The election campaign of Rajshahi 2 constituency (city corporation area) heavyweight candidates Fazle Hossain Badsha and Mizanur Rahman Minu ended peacefully.
Speaking with the Dhaka Tribune, Sheaf of Paddy candidate Minu said: “There was no level playing field during the campaign period. Among our leaders and activists, two have disappeared, 159 were detained, cases filed against at least 4,000 supporters under false pretences, and seven party offices were torched.
“We are ready to die or be imprisoned, but our mission is to re-establish democracy [in the country].”
Meanwhile, the Boat candidate Fazle Hossain Badsha said: “The BNP candidate was not obstructed by anyone during campaign, as we do not believe in violence.
“The BNP-Jamaat alliance is using the excuse of violence in the face of certain defeat.”
Rajshahi 3 constituency
Accusing ruling party men of sabotage, BNP and Oikya Front nominated candidate for Rajshahi 3 (Paba-Mohanpur), Mohammad Shafiqul Haque Milon said: “My electoral area has become a zone of fear. Posters, banners and festoons were destroyed by Awami League activists.
“They [Awami League] are engaged in a conspiracy to win to polls by any means, with the support of police and administration.”
He also protested against the attacks on his fellows.
Ayeen Uddin is the candidate for the Boat symbol in this constituency.
Rajshahi 4 constituency
Awami League and the BNP have nominated Enamul Haque and Md Abu Hena respectively for the Rajshahi 4 (Bagmara) constituency.
The presence of BNP candidate and his supporters was very minimal during the campaign period. Police action was also heavy in the area, as members of law enforcement agencies detained 11 people and seized 19 motorcycles on Wednesday.
Confirming the matter to the Dhaka Tribune, Bagmara police station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Nashim Ahmed said detainees were produced before a court under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
“Those suspects entered Bagmara with a motorcade, and began tearing down posters, banners featuring the boat candidate Enamul Haque. They also vandalized an election office. Enamul filed a case over the incident.”
In response, BNP candidate Abu Hena said: “Panic spread in the area after police arrested my supporters in cases filed under false pretenses. We could not even carry out the polls campaign peacefully, when did we get the time to damage other candidate’s promotional material?
“We did not witness a decent campaigning atmosphere in the area.”
Rajshahi 5 Constituency
Awami League has nominated Md Mansur Rahman for the Rajshahi 5 (Puthia-Durgapur) constituency, while the BNP named Prof Nazrul Islam as the Sheaf of Paddy contender.
BNP initially selected heavyweight aspirant and former district unit president Nadim Mustafa, but he could not contest the polls because of legal complications.
Rajshahi 6 Constituency
Bagha Upazilla BNP Convener Jahangir Hossain said: “There is no BNP candidate in Rajshahi 6 (Bagha-Charghat) constituency.
“Oikya Front had nominated Md Abu Sayeed Chan for contesting the election, but his candidature was declared illegal by the Election Commission, as he could not resign from his position as the upazila chairman due bureaucracy issues.”
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, State Minister of Foreign Affairs and Awami League candidate of this constituency, Mohammad Shahriar Alam said: “People of this area will cast their ballot peacefully, as the candidacy of those backing terrorism has been declared illegal.
Voters’ point of view
A significant number of voters in Rajshahi’s constituencies are optimistic about a peaceful election.
A voter from Rajshahi 2 constituency, Abul Kalam Azad said: “We are eagerly waiting for December 30. We want to visit our designated polling centres and cast our votes.
Echoing the same opinion, a university student from Rajshahi 1, Mahfuz Anam said: “I want to exercise my democratic right for the first time. I am excited and requesting each party not to engage in violence during the election.
“All political parties should remain calm and give us the opportunity to exercise our constitutional rights.”