With the 17-day electoral campaigns ending tomorrow morning, the Awami League-led alliance candidates are campaigning at full throttle while contenders from the BNP-led combines are struggling due to “arrests, police harassment and attacks by opponents”.
The ruling party candidates have been dominating the scene since the election campaign officially began on December 10.
They are making door-to-door visits, bringing out processions, holding meetings and distributing leaflets. Their posters can be seen almost everywhere.
Their supporters are using social media platforms for campaigning.
Talking to The Daily Star last night, AL Joint General Secretary Abdur Rahman said party President Sheikh Hasina will address election rallies in four districts, including Jashore and Panchagarh, through video conference today.
He also said party candidates as well as leaders and activists will carry out hectic campaigns on the last day of electioneering to woo voters.
However, the contenders of the BNP-led alliances -- the Jatiya Oikyafront and the 20-party combine -- are campaigning on a limited scale.
BNP leaders said they were not running full-scale campaigns to avoid arrests as law enforcement agencies continued detaining the party men and filing cases against them.
But they are active on digital platforms to reach out to the voters.
Yesterday, central leaders of the BNP and the Oikyafront instructed their candidates to gear up electoral campaigns on the last day. They also asked local leaders and activists in all the constituencies to take part in those.
But many of the candidates said the situation on the ground has not changed even after the army deployment.
They alleged that the ongoing election violence and attacks on the party candidates have not stopped in many parts of the country. Arrests of the party leaders and activists are making the situation more difficult.
"We expected that the situation would improve following the army deployment, and that our candidates and workers would be able to run hectic campaigns. But the situation worsened. Our leaders and activists are being chased and arrested ...,” complained Mojibor Rahman Sarwar, BNP candidate for Barishal-5.
During an electoral campaign in his constituency, he told reporters that the ruling party men were trying to provoke them to indulge in violence by carrying out attacks and creating obstruction to electioneering.
Senior leaders of the BNP and the Oikyafront in Barishal said they are carrying out campaigns on a limited scale with caution to avoid violence and arrests.
Talking to reporters, Bilkis Jahan Shirin, divisional organising secretary of the BNP, said, "We do not want to lose our strength as people are ready to vote for sheaf of paddy [BNP's electoral symbol] across the country.
“Now our main goal is to encourage people to go to the polling stations on December 30."
Oikyafront candidate for Narayanganj-5 SM Akram alleged that police were arresting his followers and doubted whether he would be able to appoint polling agents at all 171 centres in his constituency.
"The spate of attacks as well as arrests of the opposition men are still going on,” he told reporters at his house at Thana Pukurpar.
In Rajshahi, three BNP candidates claimed that AL men were intimidating voters by carrying out attacks on the houses of leaders and activists of the opposition alliance.
At a press conference at the BNP office in the city's Malopara area, they said they would contest the polls though the Election Commission remained "silent on atrocities and harassment of BNP men".
BNP candidate for Rajshahi-2 Mizanur Rahman Minu alleged that arrests of party supporters continued yesterday. Ruling party men attacked campaigners of the BNP candidates in the presence of the AL candidates for Rajshahi-1 and 3.
"A sense of fear prevails among the voters as police and AL men are frequenting villages in most of the constituencies in search of BNP leaders,” Minu said.
According to media reports, motorcades and campaigns of at least 51 BNP and Oikyafront candidates have been attacked allegedly by AL men since election campaigns officially began on December 10.
More than 1,100 people, mostly BNP men, have been injured in the incidents.
AL chief Sheikh Hasina formally started polls campaign on December 12 by paying homage to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at his mausoleum in Gopalganj's Tungipara .
On her way back to Dhaka, she spoke at roadside rallies at seven places.
Hasina has delivered speeches at 24 election rallies in different parts of the country since the start of formal electioneering.
She visited Sylhet, Rangpur and Dinajpur, and spoke at several election rallies in the two northern districts.
In the capital, the AL president addressed two such rallies in Gulshan and Kamrangirchar.
She also joined rallies in 11 districts through video conference, according to party sources.
The Oikyafront formally launched election campaigns in Sylhet on December 12.
It held rallies in Mymensingh, Cumilla and Narayanganj.
The opposition alliance had sought permission from the authorities concerned for holding an election rally in the capital today, but did not get it.