|Harunur Rashid, a supporter of mayoral candidate Ahsan Habib Kamal was injured as police opened fire on campaigners in Barisal city Wednesday night.
The June 15 election to four city corporations - Barisal, Khulna, Rajshahi and Sylhet - has turned to be double edged blade for the ruling Awami League since it going to influence the national politics and the future general election of the country.
In all these cities the outgoing mayors were from the Awami League and they are contesting for re-election this time also. In Barisal AL’s Mohammad Shawkat Hossain Hiron is facing BNP’s Ahsan Habib Kamal, in Khulna AL leader Talukder Abdul Khaleque is challenged by BNP’s Moniruzzaman Moni, in Rajshani AL’s AHM Khairuzzaman Liton’s contestant is Mohammad Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul and in Sylhet AL leader Badar Uddin Ahmed Kamran’s main rival is BNP’s Ariful Haque Chowdhury.
According to media reports, a neck-and-neck fight is going to take place between the candidates backed by AL and BNP, and both parties are making all-out campaign to win the elections.
The political observers view that if the ruling party keep total neutrality, that is very unlikely, then they may lose the mangoes but save the gunny bag showing that a neutral election is possible keeping the party in power. But if they try to manipulate to get their sported candidates won the race, that they may save the mangoes but not the gunny bag. In that case the opposition’s demand for a caretaker government in general election will earn logical gains.
And in the final round, the future general elections may a massive blow for Awami League with both the mangoes and gunny bag lost together.
Meanwhile, the hectic campaign for the elections ended Thursday midnight.
Not only the leaders and activists of two major parties, even the two top leaders—Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia—are also took keen interest in the elections and supervised the campaigns closely. Leaders from both the major parties and their allies were engaged in desperate efforts to win over the voters to ensure the victory of their respective party-backed candidates.
Police firing in Barisal
The election atmosphere , however was peaceful excepting a last moment police firing on the supporters of opposition candidate Ahsan Habib Kamal in Barisal in a mounting tensions on Wednesday night.
An election campaigner of 18-party alliance-backed mayoral candidate Ahsan Habib Kamal was injured as police opened fire on campaigners at Boiddyapara in the city Wednesday night.
The critically injured, Harunur Rashid, 40, was sent to Dhaka Medical College Hospital after his condition deteriorated in Barisal. Harun, an active campaigner of Kamal, received gunshot while trying to save Kamal, said the witnesses of the incident.
In Barisal, BNP leaders placed a memorandum to the returning officer concerned demanding deployment of army in the city polls as they apprehend flaring-ups of violence on the election day.
Meanwhile, allegations also were there from all the city corporation that the candidates were not paying heed to the electoral rules at the final stages of the mass campaigns.
In Rajshahi City Corporation, local government department issued show-cause notice to the elected people’s representatives asking them to explain the reason of using government vehicles in the election activities.
Besides, the local government department also directed the authorities concerned of the four cities to seize vehicles of Upazila Parishad chairmen, Vice-chairmen, Mayors and district administrations, if the vehicles get inside the election areas without having permission from the department.
During a hectic campaign Wednesday, immediate-past mayor and AL leader AHM Khairuzzaman Liton brought allegation that Jamaat-e-Islami and Hefazat-e-Islam got down to the election campaign for BNP-backed mayoral candidate Md Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul and were also handing out huge amounts of money to the voters.
In Khulna City Corporation, Awami League advisory council member Tofail Ahmed, during campaign for AL-backed heavyweight mayoral candidate and immediate-past mayor Talukder Abdul Khaleque, said, “It is the manner of BNP to bring allegation of stealing votes in the polls and they are doing so sensing defeat in the mayoral race in the city corporation.”
In Sylhet City Corporation (SCC), the returning officer concerned pulled down the ‘election stage’ of former mayor and AL leader Badar Uddin Ahmed Kamran Wednesday as he wanted to conduct rally from stage, which is a violation of electoral code of conduct.
CEC on army deployment
The Election Commission is prepared to deploy army only in case of any emergency during elections to the four city corporations, said Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmed on Wednesday.
“Situation calling for deployment of army in the city polls has not arisen yet as the law-and-order situation in the election areas remained peaceful,” he told journalists after a meeting with the law-enforcement agencies in the conference room of the EC Secretariat.
“Some candidates have demanded army deployment while some others are against. The situation to deploy army in the city elections has not arisen yet. But, we are not certain about any emergency. We have preparations to take any decision in case of emergency.”
The CEC said, “The number of law enforcers has been increased in the four cities and surveillance has also been enhanced. Members of RAB and BGB have been asked to detect risky polling centres and keep watch on those.”
“Intelligence agencies are keeping watch on listed criminals. Outsiders have been asked to leave the election areas 48 hours before the polling day. Check posts have been set up in the election areas to stop intrusion of outsiders. Drive is being carried out to recover illegal arms and deputy commissioners have been requested to follow policy about legal arms,” the CEC said.
The law-enforcement agencies and intelligence organisations informed the CEC about possible post-election violence by Hefazat-e-Islam and Jamaat-Shibir in Rajshahi and Barisal, meeting sources said.
The CEC said electoral code of conduct was being violated in the four cities and the commission was taking action against those breaching the code. He also urged the candidates to go by the election rules and accept polls results whatever it would be.