Hectic campaign on as polls near
With less than two days left for campaigning in the polls to three city corporations, candidates especially Awami League- and BNP-backed mayor aspirants are working from dawn to midnight to woo voters.
Some, particularly the ruling AL-backed candidates, have reportedly violated electoral code of conduct by seeking votes in mosques yesterday after Juma prayers, when mosques see the highest gathering in a week.
Campaigning in religious establishments is prohibited.
Candidates were seen coming up with unusual pledges to woo voters.
The Jatiya Party-backed mayor candidate for Dhaka South City Corporation Saifuddin Ahmed yesterday pledged that he would not take any salary or remunerations if he was elected mayor.
“Instead, I will distribute my salary and other remunerations to the poor and the destitute,” he said after offering prayers at Chati Mosque in Kamrangirchar.
Saifuddin's rival, Sayeed Khokon, the AL-backed candidate, asked for votes after offering prayers at the Baitul Mukarram Mosque.
Khokon inside the mosque called upon the devotees to cast their votes on his electoral symbol “hilsa fish”.
Mizanur Rahman, the imam of the mosque, whilst offering prayers sought blessings for Khokon.
Asked why he had campaigned inside the mosque, Khokon said his family was very close to the national mosque. He said the namaj-e-janaza of his father was held at the mosque and his grand father was also involved in this mosque's operations.
Khokon pledged to do everything he could for the mosque if elected.
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-backed mayor candidate for the DSCC yesterday announced his withdrawal from the race and endorsed Khokon.
Meanwhile, the AL-endorsed mayor candidate for the DNCC Annisul Huq yesterday urged the EC to do everything, including deployment of the army, so that voters could exercise their franchise safely.
His rival BNP-backed Tabith Awal was allegedly obstructed from offering Juma prayers at a mosque in Tejgaon area as the education minister and the state minister for home were to go to the same mosque.
Abdullah Al Harun Sohel, a member of Tabith's election campaign coordination team, said Tabith was scheduled to offer the prayers at Rahim Metal Jam-e-Mosque at Nabisco and campaign in the area later on.
Sohel said an officer of Tejgaon Industrial Area Police Station and Sub-Inspector Azizul Islam went to Tabith's election office in Tejgaon around noon and asked them to tell Tabith not to go to the mosque as Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid and State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal would go there.
He said Tabith later offered the prayers at Nakhal Para Baro Mosque to avoid any untoward incident.
Salahauddin, officer-in-charge of Tejgaon Industrial Area Police Station, could not be reached for his comments.
Talking to reporters, Tabith said the EC was not playing its due role for holding a fair election.
BNP-backed DSCC mayor contestant Mirza Abbas' wife Afroza Abbas alleged that the police was arresting their campaigners to intimidate their leaders and activists.
Two senior BNP leaders -- Moudud Ahmed and ASM Hannan Shah -- yesterday carried out electioneering for Tabith and Abbas.
Moudud alleged that the EC was acting on the government's dictate.
"The EC's decision over deployment of the army has disappointed us. They're thinking about conducting the polls by Rab and police, changing their decision to keep the army on petrol. We think the commission has proved that it's working as per the government's will by retreating from its decision to deploy the army," Moudud said.
Electioneering in Dhaka south, Dhaka north, and Chittagong City Corporation ends at midnight Sunday.
In Chittagong City Corporation, AL- and BNP-backed camps are tensed as the electioneering time comes to an end, report our correspondents there.