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Challenges for AL, BNP in Gazipur city polls

  • Published at 09:20 pm June 25th, 2018
  • Last updated at 02:30 am June 26th, 2018
Gazipur citizens brace for the city corporation election, scheduled to kick off Tuesday; June 26, 2018 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

One of the main challenges is the internal conflicts among some local leaders from both the camps.

Despite repeated assurances by the Election Commission and law enforcement agencies about holding a free, fair and transparent election, many candidates – including those from the two major parties: Awami League and BNP – have expressed their concern about vote rigging and violence.

BNP Gazipur mayoral candidate, Hasan Uddin Sarker, claimed that the Awami League men – along with members of the law enforcement agencies – have been continuously threatening his party’s activists.

“We suspect that Awami League men will kick our agents out of the polling centres and put their people pretending as BNP polling agents to show that the election is free and fair,” he said.

“We are confident that victory will be ours if the Election Commission can arrange free and fair polls,” he added.

Meanwhile, Awami League Gazipur mayoral candidate Jahangir Alam said: “We have no plan to rig the votes. I had personally met with many of the voters during my campaign and they responded very positively.”

Replying to a query, he said: “BNP men have threatened our people many times.”

He, however, did not specify the names of those who gave the threats or why and when those threats were made.

Also Read- Voters divided over Gazipur city polls

Internal conflicts in Awami League, BNP

Although both of the candidates from Awami League and BNP are confident to win the polls, the internal conflicts among some local leaders from both the camps remain unresolved.

Such conflicts may affect the electoral results as the Gazipur City Corporation election is going to be held under the party symbols for the first time, according mid-level leaders.

Several ward leaders of Awami League told the Dhaka Tribune that top leaders of local Awami League such as – Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque, who is also president of Gazipur district Awami League; Gazipur city Awamiu League President Azmat Ullah Khan; and General Secretary of Gazipur district Awami League Iqbal Hossain Sabuj – did not actively work for the ruling party nominated candidate Jahangir Alam.

 “These leaders have made up their mind on the basis of the fact that Jahangir Alam is too young compared to other top leaders of the local Awami League. Even if they may seem supportive of Jahangir, they lack conviction… it is more of an eyewash,” said a leader on condition of anonymity.

When asked about the matter, Gazipur city Awamiu League President Azmat Ullah Khan refuted the allegation.

“I am working with all my heart and soul to help our candidate win,” he said.

On the other hand, MA Mannan, the previous mayor of Gazipur City Corporation, failed to get a nomination paper from BNP this time.

But he wields influence in the city maintaining popularity among his supporters. Mannan won the last city election when he garnered over 100,000 more votes than his counterpart from Awami League, Azmat Ullah Khan.

Many BNP men said Mannan and Hasan Sarkar have had conflicts for many years. They also alleged that Mannan has many supporters and activists in Joydebpur area of the city who are not working in favour of Hasan Sarkar.

A BNP leader said: “Hasan Sarkar lives in Tongi area of the city; he has never valued us as we are live in Joydebpur. He has always given priority to his activists who live in Tongi.”

MA Mannan is now abroad undergoing medical treatment.

However, senior BNP leaders of Gazipur district have been actively working for Hasan Sarker so far.

Also Read- EC orders Gazipur SP to stop arrests during city polls

The perks of Gazipur city polls

The Gazipur city election is a big challenge for the ruling Awami League for two reasons.

Since 1996, Awami League always won the parliamentary election in the Gazipur city constituency, however that was not reflected in the last mayoral election.

Awami League has a strong influence in the area, and if they lose this time – again – that will have a big impact during the upcoming general election.

On the other hand, if the Awami League candidate wins through irregularities, that will taint the government's image and work in favour of BNP during the parliamentary election.

If the Election Commission can hold a free and fair election and Awami League wins, it can play a major role in restoring credibility ahead of the parliamentary election under the party.