Jatiya Oikyafront Convener Dr Kamal Hossain yesterday called upon the voters to go to polling centres early in the morning and cast votes without fear.
“I urge the voters to go to polling stations early in the morning and cast ballots. Don't be afraid. If you go there, criminals will flee. They cannot withstand the people's strength,” he told a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU).
Replying to a query, the eminent jurist hoped people would vote for the Oikyafront candidates if today's election is held in a free and fair manner.
“If you talk to people, they will tell you that they want a change. We hope and believe that people will vote in our favour.”
In a statement distributed at the briefing, the Gonoforum president called upon the young first-time voters to exercise their franchise.
“Keep in mind that if you are afraid, you are done; if you turn around, you are Bangladesh.”
Dr Kamal claimed that there are apprehension and confusion among people over the polls, and said this needs to be removed immediately.
“The polls will be held as the day breaks. There should have been a festive atmosphere now across the country. Instead, there are worries and confusion in people's mind.”
Dr Kamal, an architect of the country's constitution, called upon members of the army, the navy, police, Rab, Border Guard Bangladesh, Ansar, the VDP and Coast Guard to play a glorious role in the election like in the past.
“Your role in peacekeeping is being praised worldwide, and this has increased your scopes across the globe. You will remain careful so that it is not hampered in any way.”
The Oikyafront convener also urged Election Commission officials, returning officers and assistant returning officers to ensure people's voting rights.
“If you violate anyone's rights, remember that someone else is violating the rights of your mother, father, wife and children. If you do that, people, history and the law will not forgive you.”
Pointing to government employees, he said they do not belong to any party, and they serve people. “People are the owners of the country. Don't deprive them of the joy of casting votes.”
He also urged public officials not to abide by “any unlawful order”.
Responding to a query, the jurist said there is no division among the components of the Oikyafront. “Rather, our unity has been strengthened.”
About recent attacks on a number of Oikyafront candidates, he said, “I never saw or heard about such attacks and oppression in my life.”
He also reiterated that they would not quit the polls under any circumstances.
Speaking at the briefing, BNP Standing Committee Member Nazrul Islam Khan claimed that till Friday, 11,506 Oikyafront leaders and activists were arrested since the announcement of the election schedule on November 8.
He also alleged that Oikyafront men faced at least 2,896 attacks that left nine people dead and 13,252 others injured.
Later, Dr Kamal and other top Oikyafront leaders held a view-exchange meeting with foreign journalists at the DRU.
He briefed them about the attacks, cases and arrests of Oikyafront leaders and activists from November 8 to December 25.
The Oikyafront leader alleged that 2,833 attacks were made on the opposition men by Awami League men and police. At least, 12,923 people, including 49 Oikyafront contenders, were injured.
“Instead of being a time of festive competition, the campaign trail turned into a nightmare. The election road is pitted with serious obstacles, threats, intimidation and violent attacks against the opposition men,” he said.