The voters from minority communities will play a major role in the six constituencies of Khulna during tomorrow's polls as they hold a large stake in the area's vote bank.
In Khulna-1, around 49 percent of the total voters -- 124,000 among 269,465 to count precisely -- belong to the minority communities, said Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Oikya Parishad and Khulna Puja Udjapan Parishad.
Khulna-5 has 35 percent of its voters from the minority communities, Khulna-6 has 25 percent, Khulna-4 has 21 percent, Khulna-2 has 19 percent and Khulna-3 has 16 percent.
Khulna chapter President of the Oikya Parishad Biman Bihari Roy told The Daily Star that the voters from the minority communities were mostly known as a selected vote bank for a particular political party in the area. However, the situation may turn around this time as they were victimised and tortured nationwide throughout the years.
Backing Biman's statement, Khulna Puja Udjapan Parishad President Shyamal Kumar Haldar said, “It is very difficult to feel the pulse of the minority community voters this time. Who they cast their votes for is totally up to them.
“But they should cast vote in favour of the right men who always stayed with the community at difficult times.”
Meanwhile, the correspondent saw many candidates applying tactics during their electioneering to woo the minority voters.
Panchanon Biswas, the AL candidate for Khulna-1, said he was hopeful that minority community voters would support him.
“The voters are now politically more conscious than ever. The AL government has not left a single stone unturned for the betterment and wellbeing of the minority community. The voters understand that,” he said.
On the other hand, Amir Ezaz Khan, the BNP candidate in Khulna-1, said, “I prefer not to discriminate the minority voters. For me, all voters are equal. I will work for everybody if the people elect me with their votes.”
Narayan Chandra Chanda, AL candidate in Khulna-5, said, “The days are gone when minority community was a winning factor in national polls. All the voters are now equally important to me.”
Mia Golam Porwar, a Jamaat-e-Islami leader who is fighting on BNP ticket in Khulna-5, said, “I bagged a lot of votes from the minority community in the 2008 and 2001 elections. I am expecting even more votes from them in the upcoming polls.
“I never treat them as minorities. Islam does not teach us to discriminate people belonging to other religions or communities. I worked for everyone in the previous terms and the minority communities are no exception.”
Azizul Bari Helal, BNP candidate in Khulna-4, claimed the AL tried to emotionally blackmail the minority community voters ahead of the polls.
The voters are now aware of it, he added.
“There is no reason to believe that members of the minority communities belong to any particular political party. I am expecting to win in my constituency with a lot of votes from the minority voters.”
In Khulna, there are around 500,000 minority voters among the total of 1800,000 voters.
The correspondent spoke to at least 35 voters from minority communities in the district.
Many of them said attacks and tortures on the minority communities that had happened throughout the years may become an issue in the district's polls.
The gap of communication between the mass people and the candidates was also a factor among the minority voters. However, the candidates tried their best to decrease this gap ahead of polls, they said.
In the end, they said they would cast their votes for whoever they believed were the right candidates.