Gazipur City Polls: BNP to keep close watch
The BNP will keep a close eye on the Gazipur city polling stations the night before the voting day and try to assemble party men outside to guard the centres during polling as part of its new strategy for the June 26 mayoral polls.
The party adopted the strategy after taking lessons from the Khulna city polls in which the BNP mayoral candidate lost to the ruling Awami League candidate. The BNP fears the AL might employ the same “tactic of intimidation” to win the polls in Gazipur.
The BNP is also trying to boost the morale of the party men so that they do not give in to intimidation from the ruling party men or law enforcers and leave the polling stations, party insiders said.
“We are working on the new strategy after having the experience of the Khulna city polls. We are analysing the vote-rigging strategy of Awami League and hope to deal with it with our new plans,” BNP standing committee member Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain told The Daily Star.
Wishing anonymity, a senior BNP leader said if the new strategy brought a good outcome, the party would follow it in the polls to Sylhet, Rajshahi and Barisal city corporations.
For picking the polling agents of the Gazipur mayor candidate, the BNP is giving preference to party leaders and activists who are not accused in any cases, the leader told this correspondent.
The elections to Khulna City Corporation (KCC) was allegedly marred by irregularities such as heavy showdown by the AL men in and around polling stations, stuffing of ballot boxes and driving out polling agents of rival parties.
AL mayoral candidate Talukder Abdul Khaleque defeated Nazrul Islam Monju of BNP by around 64,000 votes in the May 15 polls in Khulna city, considered a bastion of BNP.
During covering the elections, reporters of The Daily Star found that the AL men, wearing badges of “boat”, the electoral symbol of Khaleque, were apparently in control of the entrances, outside and even inside areas of many polling stations; barred voters from going to polling centres and publicly asked voters to vote for the party's mayoral candidate.
FOCUS SHIFTS TO GAZIPUR
The Gazipur city polls have already attracted the attention of people as the AL wants to regain its popularity in the industrial district while BNP wants to continue its dominance.
In 2013, the BNP-backed mayoral candidate had won the city polls defeating the AL-backed candidate by more than one lakh votes.
Party sources said senior BNP leaders were holding a series of meetings with Gazipur district BNP leaders.
A few days ago, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir had a meeting with the senior party leaders from Gazipur, including party mayoral candidate Hasan Uddin Sarker, at the BNP chairperson's Gulshan office.
The BNP leaders will start electioneering in full swing in all the 57 wards of Gazipur city from June 18.
Fazlul Huq Milon, member secretary of GCC polls coordination committee of BNP, said, “In Khulna, Awami League and law enforcers jointly got involved in vote rigging. Our strength lies among common people as we do not have arms. We will resist any attempt of rigging the polls by using people's power. We will form a special committee in Gazipur to stop voting irregularities.”
He also said local and central BNP leaders were taking all out preparations to foil any attempt to rig the polls and commit irregularities.
“People from all the 64 districts live in Gazipur and many voters are not local people. So things here are different from Khulna,” Milon, also the president of Gazipur BNP, said.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission will sit today to finalise the schedules of the upcoming Sylhet, Rajshahi and Barisal city polls. Election officials said polls to those city corporations could be held in late July.