The Jatiya Oikyafront candidates in the six constituencies of Khulna are heavily depending on female activists for their campaigns as most of the men are either on the run or under cover fearing police.
Male leaders and activists are seldom seen campaigning. They remain silent or in hiding to avoid police harassment, locals said, adding that using female activists in the campaigns is a strategy of the alliance.
Jamaat leaders have been nominated by the Jatiya Oikyafront in two constituencies of Khulna.
More than half the constituents in Khulna are women and it makes sense to deploy female activists, BNP leaders said.
Meanwhile, the Awami League campaign has gathered significant momentum. Alongside the nominees, AL leaders and activists are campaigning. Women leaders and activists are also seeking votes going door to door.
In the BNP tent, Principal Tarikul Islam, joint-secretary of city BNP, said, “Male activists are engaged in hanging posters and outdoor activities. So, we wanted to involve women in the campaigns more.”
“It should not be considered as our strategy. It is the reality,” said the BNP leader.
Azizul Bari Helal, the BNP nominee in Khulna-4 (Rupsha, Terakhada, Digholia), said AL activists were attacking BNP leaders and activists campaigning for him and they were also facing police harassment.
He alleged that female AL activists were visiting the homes of women who got benefit under VGF and VGD programmes.
BNP activist Zorina Khatun said, “Our male members are on the run to avoid police harassment. They cannot run their businesses and are even forced to shut their business establishments. We are campaigning to get out of this anarchy.”
The 23-year-old along with similarly aged Tanzila sheikh were distributing leaflets of Rokibul Islam Bokul, the BNP candidate for Khulna-3 (Khalishpur, Daulatpur and Khanjahan Ali), at Boikali in the morning after dropping off their children at school.
Clad in burqas, their faces were covered and they were wearing gloves. Several other women were accompanying them.
“Bokul is my brother of the neighbourhood. So, I am distributing leaflets for him,” she said.
Tanzila alleged that the AL did not give the BNP and other political parties any space for political activities. “Is the country only for the AL?” she asked.
On Friday night, these correspondents visited WAPDA Slum in Rupsha Stand Road and talked to 10 women voters who said female activists were visiting their home every day.