Campaigners for good governance and the Election Commission decried election campaigns of the ruling Awami League in northern districts by train launched on Saturday causing sufferings to passengers.
An Awami League delegation, led by its general secretary Obaidul Quader, also the road transport and bridges minister, launched the organisational tour of northern districts from Dhaka by train for campaigns ahead of next general election likely to be held in December.
As ministers addressed rallies at different rail stations delaying journey of Nilphamari-bound Nilsagar Express, the passengers, including women and children, suffered a lot.
The governance campaigners urged the political parties to avoid using public transports in electioneering causing sufferings to common people.
They also urged the Election Commission to take necessary steps on moral grounds as it had the authority to guide the registered political parties.
The commission, however, said that it had nothing to do as it was responsible for polls-time beginning from the announcement of the election schedule.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh president Ghulam Rahman said that political parties should avoid such programmes that might cause suffering to the common people.
He suggested the parties to use special train or transport in their publicity.
He blamed the Railway Department for allowing the ruling party to use train for campaigns delaying the train’s schedule.
Former caretaker government adviser M Hafizuddin Khan said that the commission should take necessary steps to stop such political campaigns.
He said that such programmes also minimised the scope of creating a level playing field for all the parties.
Sushasoner Jonno Nagarik secretary Badiul Alam Majumder said that the commission was avoiding its responsibility saying that it had nothing to do before announcement of the polls schedule.
He suggested that the commission should write to all the parties to stop such use of public transports in election campaigns.
National Election Observation Council chairman Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah said that it was an unavoidable nuisance for the passengers.
He suggested that the commission and political parties should take an action plan over the use of transports in electioneering.
Election commissioner M Rafiqul Islam said that the law did not allow them to take any move in this stage as the commission was yet to announce the polls schedule.
He suggested that the common people should take supports from law enforcement agencies if anyone felt inconvenience.
At a rally in Tangail, Obaidul warned that stern action, including expulsion, would be taken against the violators of party discipline.
He called on the grassroots-level leaders not to create any indiscipline and chaos within the party. ‘Anyone who would betray the party must face the music,’ he said.
The train started from Kamalapur railway station at about 8:05am while railways minister Md Mazibul Hoque was present to see off the team.
The team included land minister Shamsur Rahman Sherif, lawmakers Jahangir Kabir Nanak, Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury, BM Muzammel Haque, Biplab Barua, Hasan Mahmud Chowdhury and Ahmad Hussain, said a release issued by the land ministry.
The team was scheduled to address rallies at Jaidevpur, Tangail, Muladuli in Ishwardi, Natore sadar and Shantahar before reaching Nilphamari, it added.
At Muladuli, Obaidul said that prime minister Sheikh Hasina ensured empowerment of women.
The land minister sought assistance from all to ensure Awami League’ win in next election.
New Age correspondent in Tangail reported that at the rally at Gharinda railway station, Obaidul Quader alleged that the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat were conspiring for violence and arson like that of 2014.
‘All their evil attempts will be thwarted along with the people,’ he said.
The minister addressed the rally at about 11:00am and left Gharinda railway station at about 11:30am.
The train usually stops at the station for highest five minutes.
The train was scheduled to reach Nilphamari at 18:15pm while till the submission of this report at 9:00pm it was at Sayedpur station and four hours and a half behind the schedule.
Road Transport and Highways division senior information officer Md Abu Naser told New Age that the leaders seated in one compartment while half of another compartment was booked for other officials and media people.
The tour will be concluded in Nilphamari, he added.