Voters in slums miss out on pre-polls 'gifts' | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 26, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:52 AM, December 26, 2018

Voters in slums miss out on pre-polls 'gifts'

With electioneering for the parliamentary polls winding down to a close, residents of the capital's slums are feeling left out, apparently because of a rather one-sided campaigning.

No election camps, posters, leaflets or any activities of the main opposition alliance, Jatiya Oikyafront, could be seen during visits in the last few days to four large slums in Dhaka city -- Korail, Banani-Mohakhali, Bhasantek and Karwan Bazar-Tejgaon railway areas.

The situation has frustrated voters of the slums, who said they are not getting enough attention from candidates, like they did before in previous general elections.

Candidates of main political parties before previous polls had tried to sway voters, often by providing clothes and blankets. Slum dwellers said since this time there is no presence from BNP on the ground, they are not being given due importance.

However, the slums are seeing full-swing campaigning of Awami League candidates, with election camps, posters and leaflets aplenty. Small-scale electioneering by  some other political parties -- like Islami Andolon Bangladesh -- were also seen there.

Abdul Ali, 60, a dweller of Korail slum, said there has been a common trend of distributing clothes, saris and blankets to slum dwellers before general elections. But this year, the picture is completely different due to a lack of campaigning by opposition parties, especially BNP.

“None of the parties contesting the polls have distributed any clothes or blankets, but we are hoping that they would distribute it before the election, considering our sufferings in winter,” said Ali.

Another slum dweller said they usually get benefits from both large political parties -- BNP and AL -- during elections, but now they are being deprived due to the one-sided campaign.

Many voters also do not know who are contesting in the national polls with the symbol of “sheaf of paddy” -- the symbol of BNP and other Jatiya Oikyafront candidates -- in their constituencies.

Dhaka-17 constituency is formed with Gulshan, Banani, Cantonment and Bhashantek areas, while Dhaka-12 comprises Tejgaon and Tejgaon Industrial area, and parts of Ramna, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar and Hatirjheel area.

A good number of voters of the constituencies live in the slums. According to sources, there are around 26,600 votes in Korail slum, majority of who are women, while the Bhashantek slum houses some 9,800 voters.

Moulona Abdus Sobahan, president of Korail Slum Development Committee unit-1 and also a local Awami League leader, said, “I didn't see any activities of 'sheaf of paddy', though they have some supporters in the slum.”

He said Awami League leaders distribute clothes and blankets to the poor in winter every year. This year they will distribute it when winter sets in properly, he added.

Nagor Miah, chairman of Bhashantek slum and also vice president of Awami League in Bhashantek thana, said though there are supporters and activists of BNP in the slum, they are not conducting any campaign.

Some residents of Bhashantek slum, however, claimed that activists seeking vote for “sheaf of paddy” attempted to distribute leaflets in their slum recently, but retreated in the face of resistance from opponent supporters.

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