The candidates of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led Jatiya Oikya Front alleged that the police and supporters of the ruling party Awami League are putting hurdles to frustrate their efforts in electioneering.
In contrast, many candidates of AL-led alliance told New Age that they started electioneering in full swing since December 10, the day of distribution of symbols.
Violating the electoral code of conduct, police were beating up Oikya Front supporters and also putting them under arrest, while ruling party AL men also attacked on them and foiled their attempt at putting up election posters, observed Oikya Front nominated candidates Mirza Abbas, Mostafa Mohsin Mantu and many others.
On the other hand, AL-led grand alliance candidates such as home affairs minister Asaduzzaman Khan and Jatiya Party presidium member Kazi Firoz Rashid were regularly taking part in electioneering in their respective constituencies from December 10.
‘Following a month-long preparation, I started electioneering on December 10 with the support from AL activists in electioneering,’ Firoz Rashid told New Age.
After coursing through the capital city’s several electoral areas — Dhanmondi, Farmgate, Bangla Motor, Maghbazar, Tejgaon, Gulshan, Kalachanpur, Rampura, Khilgaon, Basabo, Madartek, Mugda, Matijheel, Wari, Nimtali and Shahbagh — New Age on Sunday found in abundance posters seeking votes for AL nominated candidates for the ‘boat’ symbol in the upcoming national elections on December 30.
Some posters of candidates like Shawkat Ali Hawlader of Islami Andolan Bangladesh, Abu Hossain Babla of Jatiya Party, Zonayed Saki of Left Democratic Alliance, Bobby Hajjaj of Bangladesh Muslim League, Kazi Firoz Rashid of Jatiya Party, Mohammad Abul Kashem of Islami Andolan Bangladesh were also found in some areas.
But, no poster of the BNP-led Oikya Front candidates were found in the above mentioned areas on the day.
BNP nominated candidate for Dhaka 8 constituency Mirza Abbas told New Age on Tuesday, ‘The ruling party activists were not allowing us to hang posters. Our attempts at doing so were foiled through deliberate attacks on us in the presence of the police.’
‘Police was also in an arrest-spree — our supporters are being detained on different charges, and I wonder whether we would get polling agents for elections,’ said Abbas, also a BNP standing committee member.
Election Commission utterly failed in ensuring level playing field, he added.
‘Even after complaining to the EC about ongoing violence on Monday, ruling party activists swooped on the supporters of Afroza Abbas and Salauddin Ahmed today,’ Abbas told New Age on Tuesday.
Gono Forum general secretary Mostafa Mohsin Montu, who is contesting the elections with ‘sheaf of paddy’ symbol from Dhaka 7, said Oikya Front leaders on Monday afternoon complained to the EC that the ruling party activists were violating the electoral code of conduct by placing an embargo on their electioneering across the country.
‘We also told the EC that the police was also harassing our supporters while trying to put up posters and, on top of that, ordered the printing presses not to print posters of Jatiya Oikya Front,’ he alleged.
Bangladesh Printing Industry Association president Shaheed Serniabat said he heard about such allegation that the ‘administration ordered the press owners not to print posters of certain candidates’ but had not received any such complaint from any member of the association.
AL joint secretary general Abdur Rahim, at a press conference held at AL chairperson Sheikh Hasina’s political office in Dhanmondi, claimed that the aggrieved BNP activists and leaders who failed to get nominations were attacking on BNP nominated candidates across the country.
‘AL supporters were not involved in any such attack. The BNP leaders were falsely accusing AL activists with the evil intention of foiling the elections,’ he said.
Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan said police had not slapped any embargo on putting up posters of BNP candidates.
‘Police were conducting a drive to arrest those against whom warrants were issued. The EC also gave permission in such arrests,’ Asaduzzaman clarified.
Many of his rival candidates, Asaduzzaman said, were putting up posters in areas of Dhaka 12 constituency.
‘What can I do, or police do, if BNP nominates someone (Saiful Alam Nirob) who is accused in 267 cases in every district and does not appear in public meetings? Still, his supporters distributed leaflets without any disturbance,’ claimed Asaduzzaman.
In response to a question whether Nirob would be arrested, Asaduzzaman said, ‘Several arrest warrants were issued against him and police would follow the rule of law.’
The Jatiya Oikya Front on Sunday asked the EC to deploy armed forces by Tuesday to restore order at field level ahead of the December 30 general election.
The EC on Monday in a letter asked the inspector general of police to submit report within three days on the attack on Kamal Hossain.
AIG (media) Md Sohel Rana said, ‘From the beginning of electioneering Bangladesh Police has been following the rule of law and instructions of the EC and also treating everybody equally.’
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