Thursday, May 30, 2024

Upazila electioneering picks up steam

AL plunges into campaigns, BNP fears attacks
Staff Correspondent
Campaigns for the January 22 elections to 481 upazilas across the country has gained some momentum with the Awami League plunging into electioneering in the wake of its landslide victory in the general elections though the Bangladesh Nationalist Party is yet to start electioneering apparently in fear of reprisals.
A total of 8,131 candidates are contesting the upazila elections with 3,316 vying for the posts of chairman, 2,879 for vice-chairman and 1,936 reserved for women vice-chairmen.
Local leaders of BNP in different parts of the country said they were facing some ‘strategic disadvantages’ in electioneering in addition to the post- election violence which had already claimed lives of 10 people and injured 270 others. Candidates nominated for the upazila polls by BNP and its allies in some places have reportedly withdrawn from the race fearing that the local polls may not be free and fair.
Buoyed by the landslide victory in the December 29 general elections, the Awami League activists are dominating the campaigns for the upazila polls. They are trying to convince the voters that they would not face any problems in implementing their electoral pledges as their party would be in power.
About the post-polls violence, election commissioner M Sakhawat Hussain on Sunday told reporters, ‘Until December 31, the whole situation was under the Election Commission’s control and peaceful. But troubles started on January 1 which he called unfortunate. ‘The administration has to take necessary steps in this regard.’
He said military would not be deployed during the upazila polls. Law enforcement agencies and the Bangladesh Rifles will be in the field to ensure security, he said.
New Age correspondent in Khulna reported that BNP-led alliance candidates in the upazila elections were hesitating to start campaigns in different upazilas of the district fearing attacks from Awami League activists. A godd number of BNP supporters have left their homes in the face of threats from the AL men, alleged local leaders of the BNP-led alliance.
A total of 40 candidates are in the race in nine upazilas of the district and the BNP-led alliance is backing one candidate for each of the upazilas.
‘AL activists have been threatening our men across the district after their victory in the December 29 polls and we are in panic’, said Shafiqul Alam Mona, Khulna district BNP general secretary.
Mona, however, confirmed that they were directed by the BNP party high command to take part in the upazila polls and accordingly the four-party alliance was supporting only one candidate for chairman, vice-chairman and female vice-chairman posts in each upazila.
Aftab Ahmed Jamaddar of BNP, a candidate for chairman of Rupsha upazila, told New Age that a number of BNP activists in his upazila were not at home at present in the face of AL men’s threat and a good number of the BNP men had already become victims of post-election violence. He said he was yet to start campaign in full swing though the election was round the corner.
Khulna four party co-convener Maulana Sakhawat Hossain feared that the post-December 29 election violence could influence the upazila polls and demanded effective steps to quell the trouble.
Our staff correspondent in Sylhet reported that candidates of BNP for upazila polls were not facing any major obstructions in electioneering.
Former general secretary of the district unit of BNP, Abul Kaher Shamim, also a candidate for chairman of sadar upazila, told New Age that some sporadic incidents of violence had taken place after the national polls in the region. ‘But these will not have any impact on our election campaigns.’
‘We are facing some strategic disadvantages in campaigns because the Awami League candidates are making use of their party’s landslide victory in the national elections,’ Shamim said.
New Age correspondent in Rajshahi reports: the BNP’s candidates in upazila polls have started electioneering after the party high command gave them green light. But the four chairmen and seven vice chairmen candidates of the party in Paba upazila have withdrawn from the race as they think the polls will not be free and fair.
New Age correspondent in Pabna reported that intra-party feuds had surfaced in both AL and BNP over candidatures in the upazila polls and both the parties had more than one candidate for each post in every upazila of the district.
New Age correspondent in Barisal reported that the AL had more than one candidate for each post and was ahead of other parties in electioneering being inspired by their landslide victory in the parliamentary polls.
BNP candidates are mostly silent or less active than their political rivals because of the party’s debacle in the December 29 polls.


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