With the election 14 days away, campaigning should be in full swing but the situation in Khulna is different.
Campaign activities for AL candidates in the city and villages of upazilas of Khulna were energetic but supporters of non-ruling party candidates, particularly the BNP and Jamaat, was hardly seen electioneering during a visit to three, out of six, constituencies in Khulna yesterday.
There was an uneasy calm and many kept themselves carefully away from campaigning or even discussing the December 30 polls.
A cross section of locals said those who support the BNP or the Jamaat-e-Islami have either kept themselves away from campaigning or have started electioneering for the AL to “avert police trouble or harassment”.
There were plenty of campaign offices and posters of AL candidates but hardly any of BNP candidates in Sonadanga, Ship Bari Intersection, Moyla Pota, Rupsha, Jail Khana Ghat, Picture Palace Crossing, Bakshi Para in Khulna-2; Rupsha Ferry Ghat, Elaipur, Noyhati, Kajdia, Ghat Bhogh, Lockpur, Sheikhpura, Shaili, Goara, Palerhat and Senerhat in Khulna-4; and Full Bari Gate, Mohsin More, Daulatpur, Baikari, Goalkhali, and Pabla in Khulna-3 constituency.
In Khalishpur area, where some factories are located, the number of posters of BNP candidates was higher than it was elsewhere in the city.
Almost no one was talking about the election at markets and tea-stalls in the areas where people are often heard discussing political matters.
Many avoided talking to these correspondents when approached for comments on the polls. Some did say that everything was going well and that the AL candidates were going to win.
However, after some chit-chat and following repeated assurances that they would not be in trouble of any sort, a number of the constituents said people were publicly saying that the AL candidate would win and that they would vote for AL candidates, but given the chance to cast their votes, they would vote for the BNP candidates.
“I used to support the BNP, but now I am an Awami League man as I do not want any trouble,” said a smiling tea vendor at Rupsha Ferry Ghat on Friday.
He said their shop owners' association leaders had asked him to join a campaign procession of AL candidate Abdus Salam Murshidi that day. All 200 shop owners of the association would close their shop at 2:00pm and join the procession, he had said.
He said, “In any procession of AL candidate you will see, let's say, 5000 people. In reality, 2,000 of them are BNP men. They will vote for BNP candidates like me.”
Similar comments were made by others these correspondents spoke to in Daulatpur, Sheikhpura, Sonadanga, and Fulbari Gate.
Another tea-stall owner at Kajdia Bazar of Rupsha, said in the locality there was no festivity centring the election.
“People who come to my stall show no interest in the election,” the shop owner said.
Sheikh Salauddin Jewel of AL and Nazrul Islam Monju of BNP are contesting in Khulna-2 (Sadar and Sonadanga) constituency; Abdus Salam Murshedi of AL and Azizul Bari Helal of BNP in Khulna-4 (Rupsha-Terokhada-Digholia); Begum Monnujan Sufian of AL and Rokibul Islam Bokul of BNP (Khalishpu-Daulatpur-Khanjahan Ali) are contesting Khulna-3.