Sunday, May 19, 2024

Parties, candidates plunge into full-scale campaigns

Shahidul Islam Chowdhury

The BNP chairperson, Khaleda Zia, introduces a candidate of the BNP-led alliance for the Bogra 4 constituency in Bogra while the Awami League president, Sheikh Hasina, waves at people during her visit to the Gopalganj 3 constituency as part of electioneering for the December 29 national polls. — New Age photo
The BNP chairperson, Khaleda Zia, introduces a candidate of the BNP-led alliance for the Bogra 4 constituency in Bogra while the Awami League president, Sheikh Hasina, waves at people during her visit to the Gopalganj 3 constituency as part of electioneering for the December 29 national polls. — New Age photo

Political parties and candidates contesting the December 29 general elections have plunged into full-scale campaigns with the withdrawal of the state of emergency after restrictions on civil and political rights for two years.
Top leaders of political parties, including the Awami League president, Sheikh Hasina, and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson, Khaleda Zia, have started touring districts, holding rallies to garner support for their candidates.
Candidates in all the constituencies have also started holding rallies and bringing out processions. They have also started going door-to door to seek votes.
Posters, sporting the photographs, names of candidates and party chiefs and the election symbols, have started electoral areas.
As was done in the past, the candidates this time are not setting up electoral camps and arches, treating people to tea or cigarettes in camps, using PA system, pasting bills or writing on walls as the election code of conduct has imposed some restrictions on polls campaign.
Khaleda Zia, also a former prime minister, has already addressed about 70 rallies in about 20 districts and the capital from December 12. She is scheduled to hold a number of rallies in the north-west today, the last day of her two-day tour of the region.
She on Wednesday asked leaders, activists and supporters of her party to plunge into full-scale electioneering. ‘The country is in a free atmosphere now as the emergency has been withdrawn… There is nothing to worry about… Plunge into full-scale electioneering,’ Khaleda said as she addressed a rally in Bogra.
Her arch-rival Sheikh Hasina has so far held 14 rallies in about four districts, including the capital city, from December 15. She is scheduled to hold a number of rallies in nine south-western districts today and tomorrow, the last two days of her three-day tour of the region.
Tens of thousands of people were joining the rallies of Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina as they were visiting the districts, in most cases, for the first time after their release from jail after a year’s imprisonment.
Awami League presidium member Matia Chowdhury said, ‘A complete withdrawal of the state of emergency will help in creating the atmosphere for full-scale electioneering.’
Nurul Islam, a tea stall owner at Nakhalpara in Dhaka, eyed brisk business as he hoped the candidates will begin full-scale campaign as the government had withdrawn the emergency. ‘They [candidates] have started visiting people. The government has lifted emergency. Now they will be able to start holding day-night campaigns, including rallies and processions,’ he said on Wednesday.
Chiefs of the 15 registered political parties will start addressing the nation on Bangladesh Television and Bangladesh Betar today, outlining their pledges and programmes. The Communist Party of Bangladesh president, Manjurul Ahsan Khan, will address the nation at 7:15pm today.
The interim cabinet on Sunday approved the Emergency Powers (Repeal) Ordinance 2008 and the emergency rule in place from January 11, 2007 was withdrawn.
The president, Iajuddin Ahmed, gave his nod to a complete withdrawal of the emergency in keeping with Article 141 a (1) of the constitution, said a gazette issued on Tuesday.
The government withdrew the ban on political rallies and meetings on December 12 to facilitate electioneering before the parliamentary polls.
Troops will be deployed across the country on December 20 on polls duty in line with an Election Commission directive.


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