12:00 AM, December 25, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:12 AM, December 25, 2018

From campaign trail: Lakshmipur

BNP pinned down on its own turf

The BNP has virtually been sidelined in its Lakshmipur stronghold while its rival Awami League's campaigning has been going on in full swing.

Posters and campaigning by the Jatiya Oikyafront, the alliance of which the BNP is a component, can hardly be seen anywhere in the four constituencies of the district.

During a recent visit, The Daily Star spoke to 40 voters in Lakshmipur-3 and Lakshmipur-1 and talked to sources in the other two.

“The scenario is quite unusual. An eerie calm is prevailing. We fear violence in the days ahead,” said 45-year old Mohammad Harun, a rickshaw puller of Sadar upazila under Lakshmipur-3.

“The district is a base of the BNP, but the party is cornered,” said another local at a tea stall.

Their fears seem logical as BNP leaders have said they would take to the street on polls day to stop “vote rigging”.

Since 1991, the BNP bagged all the seats in the district, except once (Lakshmipur-4 in 1996). The BNP did not take part in the 2014 polls.

Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal Chief ASM Abdur Rab, who defeated the BNP candidate in 1996, is running this year as a candidate of the Jatiya Oikyafront.

Rezaul Karim Liton, general secretary of the district Jubo Dal, alleged that voters were being intimidated and that they were not being allowed to hang posters.

“Whenever our activists try to campaign, our loud speakers are taken away by force. All these are spreading a sense of panic among voters,” he said.

“We will guard the polling centre, whatever the situation becomes.”

On Monday, Abu Taher, former general secretary of AL district unit and also the mayor of Lakshmipur municipality, threatened voters of dire consequence if they did not vote for “boat”.

"Cast your votes properly. I will be at the chairman post for two and a half more years. The roads will be dug up at night and the drains will be destroyed," Taher said at an election rally in the area in front of 200-250 people.

Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister AKM Shahjahan Kamal is running with the AL ticket against BNP Publicity Affairs Secretary Shaheed Uddin Chowdhury Annie in Lakshmipur-3.

This correspondent saw Annie's posters in some areas of Lakshmipur-3 but posters of Oikyafront candidate and Liberal Democratic Party leader Shahadat Hossain Selim was hardly seen in Lakshmipur-1.

Numerous posters of the boat symbol were seen on roads and in rural markets in both constituencies.

Talking to The Daily Star, some local BNP leaders in Lakshmipur-1 said they cannot stay home at night as police often carries out raids.

"Police have openly taken the side of 'boat'. They have asked several of my campaigners to leave the areas, threatening to shoot them in the leg otherwise," Oikyafront candidate Shahadat Hossain Selim told The Daily Star. 

"I have submitted six to seven complaints to the returning officer but they did not take any action," he added.

He alleged that AL men attacked his village home in Karpara area but police did not take any step to arrest the attackers.

Shafiq Mahmud Pintu, president of Ramganj upazila unit AL, said he did not hear about any incident of attack or violence in the upazila.

Contacted, Tota Mia, officer-in-charge of Ramganj Police Station under Lakshmipur-1, said the allegation against the police was baseless.

"There is a good election atmosphere here and all candidates are campaigning."

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