12:00 AM, December 27, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:38 AM, December 27, 2018

From campaign trail: Chattogram CITY

3 city seats with 3 unique factors

Blue-collar constituents, sympathy vote, and parochialism are likely to play a pivotal role in the city's three major constituencies, Chattogram-9, -10 and -11.

In Chittagong-11 (Port-Patenga), factory workers would be the major factor as the Chittagong Export Processing Zone (CEPZ), Karnaphuli Export Processing Zone (KEPZ), and the Chattogram Port are located there.

According to the Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority sources, there are about two lakh workers in CEPZ and 75,000 in KEPZ and 6,000-7,000 work in and around Chattogram Port.

Local sources said Chattogram-11 has the highest number of voters, a little over five lakh, and more than two lakh of them are factory workers.

Incumbent and Awami League-led alliance candidate MA Latif and Oikyafront candidate Amir Khashru Mahmud Chowdhury, former law maker from the constituency, are optimistic of getting the blue-collar vote.

Khashru, also a former minister, told The Daily Star, “Apart from expanding the activities of the port during our rule, we created huge job opportunities establishing the CEPZ and KEPZ.

“I was elected from this constituency four times and have done everything possible for the wellbeing of the workers. I am sure they will cast their votes again for me if they can go to the polling centres,” he added.

He claimed he could not campaign freely due to attacks by ruling party men and arrest of his leaders and activists.

Interestingly enough, MA Latif too claims he has the blue-collar votes almost in the bag. He told The Daily Star, “The workers are the main strength for me. I am sure 90 percent of more than two lakh workers will vote for me. 

“I have been providing them with essential commodities, including rice, lentil, edible oil and salt at half the price for the last 10 years … You can ask the workers what I have done for them.” he added.

Khadiza Begum, a worker at Sea Tax garments in CEPZ, said the candidate who gets support of the workers usually win in this constituency.

“We have been facing severe problems of accommodation and transportation,” she said, adding that they would vote for whoever is capable of solving the issues. 

In Chattogram-9 (Kotwali-Bakalia), public sympathy would be a factor for the AL-led alliance candidate Mohibul Hasan Hasan Nowfel, also the organising secretary of the party, and Oikyafront candidate Shahadat Hossain, also city unit president of BNP.

Both are first timers in Chattogram-9.

Nowfel is the son of late three-times Chattogram city mayor ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury while Shahadat is in jail and has been shown arrested in at least 11 cases, which many say are false and fabricated.

“My father was a grassroots activist and loyal to the father of the nation and her daughter until his last breath. Hasina has recognised his efforts by nominating me,” said Nowfel, adding that people know that just like his father, he would be with the grassroots.

Badrul Anwar, chief election coordinator of Shahadat, said, “Our candidate has been arrested before the election to keep him out of the race. They did not even let us campaign freely. It has made the voters sympathetic towards our candidate.”

He said if the voters could go to the polling centres, Shahadat would definitely win. 

 Shama Pada Dey, a resident of Alkaran area, said being the son of the late mayor, Nowfel has been getting a lot of attention wherever he goes. But

some people also have sympathy for Shahadat.

“People with no political affiliation have not accepted the arrest of Shahadat before the election,” he added.

A few others echoed Shama while talking to The Daily Star at the bus stop in front of the General Post Office.

In Chattogram-10 (Double-mooring), localism might be the key factor. AL led alliance candidate Afsarul Amin Chowdhury on the campaign trail has been saying that Oikyafront candidate Abdullah Al Noman is an outsider.

Afsarul told The Daily Star, “My opponent is an outsider; he is not even a voter of this constituency. I have been running from this constituency since 1996. The voters here elected me twice, which paved the way for me to be a minister.”

He claimed that he had conducted massive development projects over the last 10 years and that people would recognise that.

Noman, also a former minister, termed Afsarul's comments unexpected. “I have been with the people of this constituency for a long time and have implemented many development projects, including establishment of Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Science University.”

He said people would ignore such unfair comments and vote for him if they could go to the polling centres.

Mohammed Faizullah Pappu, general secretary of the Sonali Residential Area Welfare Association in North Agrabad, said the local and outsider issue was indeed a factor in 2014 and it is a factor this time too.

A few people The Daily Star spoke to in Halishahar Housing Estate, Noyabar, and Bou Bazar, said local or outsider did not matter.

There are six constituencies in the city but Chattogram-4, -5 and -8 are made up of mostly Sitakunda, Hathazari, and Boalkhali upazilas.

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