12:00 AM, December 17, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:17 AM, December 17, 2018

Electioneering: AL dominates, BNP struggles

Sheikh Hasina to hold four rallies in Dhaka, Sylhet and Rangpur

Around two weeks before the national polls, the Awami League-led alliance candidates are dominating the electioneering scene in cities, district towns and even villages while the picture is quite the opposite for the contestants of the BNP-led alliance.

Against the backdrop of numerous incidents of electoral violence in the last week, which left two dead and over 200 injured, the election atmosphere has become subdued.

Over a hundred places experienced such violent clashes between supporters of BNP and AL. An uneasy calm prevails in cities and district towns as many have kept themselves away from campaigning, according to reports of our district correspondents. The situation in the capital is no exception as it too saw such violence.

Meanwhile, the opposition party men are campaigning on a limited scale for what they claimed was to avoid arrests and harassment by police and attacks by political opponents.

On the other hand, AL supporters and party men set up election offices and decorated campaign gates in their respective constituencies with songs blaring out of loudspeakers.

The ruling party candidates have hit the campaign trail in the capital by making door-to-door visits, bringing out processions, holding meetings and distributing leaflets. Their posters cover most of the capital's streets.

However, an insignificant number of posters of the BNP and Jatiya Oikyafront candidates were found in a few places. The BNP leaders alleged that they were not electioneering to avoid arrests as law enforcing agencies were continuing arrests and filing cases against the party men.

"BNP activists are being arrested every day. Even today, three of my party men were arrested when they were hanging posters. How could we conduct the campaigning?" said Saiful Alam Nirob, a contender for Dhaka-12.

He alleged that police were raiding houses of BNP leaders and activists, forcing many of their party men to remain on the run.

A few BNP candidates, including Mirza Abbas, Afroza Abbas and Salauddin Ahmed, however, are conducting electioneering in full throttle in the capital.

But voters in the capital said they were yet to see the election fever.

"The election of 2014 was an exception; but during the previous elections, we saw our locality used to be covered with posters of all candidates -- be it of the ruling party or the opposition. But that was missing this year," said 60-year old Hamidul Islam, a resident of West Jatrabari.

The second week of campaigning starts today with the candidates and their respective parties expected to gear up for their electoral campaign in the next few days.

After the first round of campaigning, AL President Sheikh Hasina will hold rallies in Sylhet, Dhaka and Rangpur between December 21 and December 24 to drum up public support for the party candidates.

Hasina will address a rally in the city's Gulshan area on December 21, said Biplob Barua, assistant office secretary of AL.

Then, she will visit two shrines in Sylhet on December 22 and also attend a rally, he added.

On December 23, she will visit Pirganj and Taraganj in Rangpur and hold rallies there. The AL president will address another rally the next day in Kamrangirchar of Dhaka.

Jatiya Oikyafront, an opposition alliance consisting of BNP and several other parties, will start holding public rallies at Cumilla, Feni, Laksham and Noakhali on December 19.

AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader yesterday said, "No evil force can foil the upcoming election.

"We will continue working so that we can ensure good governance," he said after paying homage at the Shaheed Muktijuddha Mausoleum in Feni.

Shafiqur Rahman Chowdhury, general secretary of Sylhet district unit of AL, said that the electioneering was going on full pace and the candidates were campaigning according to the permitted way.

However, BNP candidate from Sylhet-1 Khandakar Abdul Muktadir alleged that the leaders of the party were being harassed and threatened everyday and their posters were being ripped off.

"Police are raiding our leaders' and activists' houses every night, threatening them and misbehaving with their family members since the schedule of the election has been declared," he said at a press briefing yesterday.

Contacted, noted writer and columnist Syed Manzoorul Islam found both positive and negative sides in the first week of electioneering.

"The positive sign is that violence did not erupt in a large scale and that young voters are discussing politics in social media. But the negative sides are attacks on candidates," said Manzoorul, a retired professor of Dhaka University.

Regrettably, the Election Commission is yet to take any strong step against the violent activities, he said.

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