The Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party mayoral candidates are paying door to door visits to voters seeking their votes, but the voters say they are doubtful whether the elections will be free and fair.
They say the idea of electing public representatives through elections has been maligned in recent years with irregularities and muscle flexing by ruling quarters.
Most of the voters expressed their fear that the elections to the Dhaka north and south cities on February 1 would not be exception this time.
‘With the near past experiences of elections, who can guarantee that a fair election will be held,’ said Abdul Matin a man in his sit of Mirpur.
‘We are afraid that either we could not go to polling stations or our votes will not be counted if we finally could reach to the polling booths,’ said Matin on Monday afternoon, when a procession of BNP’s Dhaka north city candidate Tabith Awal was passing by the Mirpur 6 kitchen market.
Tabith, who conducted election canvasses in Mirpur and Pallabi area on the day, time and again expressed concerns about fair elections in the past few days.
‘Wherever I go to seek votes, I see an overwhelming support of people…I will win if a fair election is held,’ he said while speaking at a roadside rally in the area on Monday.
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakthrul Islam Alamgir, who joined the election campaign for Tabith on Monday, said, ‘Tabith will win the polls if the election will be fair.’
‘We have seen a wave of support for Tabith in Mirpur today and it proves that he will win the polls if a fair election is held,’ he said while speaking at a roadside rally near Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium on Monday morning.
Amena Begum, who runs a juice and tea stall in Mirpur 6, said she could not cast her vote during the last general elections and during the city elections in recent years.
‘I won’t go to polling centre this time,’ she said, adding, ‘It matters nothing if I go to centre or not; the result is defined.’
Amena said she has firm belief that Awami League’s mayoral candidates — Atiqul Islam of Dhaka north and Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh of Dhaka south — will win the elections.
Readymade garments trader Sohrab Hossain near Mirpur 10 roundabout, however, said both Atiqul and Taposh have every possibility to win the election if it is held fair and free, but the voters are disillusioned over votes due to the aggressive behaviour of ruling Awami League to winning everything.
‘The way they [Awami League] want to grab everything is indecent,’ he said.
‘We just want anyone wins with their merits, but not with irregularities,’ he said.
Freedom fighter and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal president ASM Rob, who joined the election campaign of Tabith in Mirpur, said the rights to vote had been snatched away by the government.
‘This time, you will exercise your voting rights, even with force if needed,’ he told the gathering.
‘Cut off the hands if anyone comes to rob your votes on February 1,’ Rob said.
He complained that the government was trying to rig the election through the use of electronic voting machines.
Awami League’s candidate Atiqul Islam, however, said he would not make any complaint like his rival Tabith Awal.
‘I don’t want to make any complaint but I want to give the messages of development [of the government] to the voters,’ he said on Monday while addressing an election rally near Khilkhet Rail Gate area.
‘He [Tabith] might raise allegations against me of violating electoral code of conduct, but I will go ahead with my message of development,’ Atiqul said.
Atiqul used to conduct his election campaigns with large motorcade, band party and fanfare, blocking main roads.
He even blocked a hospital entrance in Farmgate on Wednesday for about two hours to conduct his election campaign.
He conducted his election campaign in Khilkhet, Kuril and Bhatara areas on Monday with similar fanfare.
Awami League’s candidate for Dhaka south Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh on Monday said that he would favour the use of electronic voting machines in the polls, a decision of the Election Commission criticised by the BNP candidates.
Taposh while speaking a rally in Khilgaon area said that voters of Dhaka had cordially accepted the EVM for voting.
BNP candidate for Dhaka south Ishraque Hossain, while beginning his election campaign in front of Dhaka Reporters’ Unity at Segunbagicha on Monday, said that a change was needed for making Dhaka a liveable city as the present government, though in power for long, failed to ensure services for city dwellers.
He, as a young candidate, urged the young voters to cast vote for him and said he wants to make the city a beautiful one.
BNP standing committee member Mirza Abbas said the movement for ousting the government would be launched if the elections were not held in free and fair manner.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission on Monday issued an order imposing ban on motorcycle run for 54 hours from January 30 midnight in the Dhaka north and south city areas.
Besides, Dhaka north city returning officer Abul Kashem asked executive magistrate concerned to take action against ruling Awami League mayoral candidate Atiqul Islam for alleged violation of the electoral code holding rallies.
Kashem told reporters that he made the order responding a complaint filed by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party mayoral candidate Tabith Awal.
He said that the magistrate asked to take action by 72 hours.
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