Rakibul Alam, while walking through Mirpur 10, stopped in his tracks to listen to what a bunch of people holding signs and banners were talking about. Right there, a street rally of Dhaka North City Corporation mayoral candidate Sajedul Haq Rubel was taking place.
Around 150 campaigners -- many carrying red flags and sickles, a symbol of the candidate -- were at the rally. “Their campaign seems to centre around the working class, but will they be able to win the polls?” Rakibul asked after taking a sip of his tea at a stall.
Another man at the stall replied, “At least they are talking about the poor, while many have just forgotten about them, as if they don’t exist.” The chitchat continued alongside Sajedul’s speech, in which he said if he is elected mayor, his focus will be to make the city safe, clean and liveable for all.
Sajedul, running under Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), said representatives of the ruling class who were Dhaka mayors have so far ensured benefits for the rich only, and if elected, he will ensure rights of general people who are continued to be deprived.
“We are positive of the election if it is free from all kinds of illegal influences and irregularities such as that of money and muscle power. State machineries like the Election Commission and even media can help create a level playing field,” Sajedul told The Daily Star, when was asked about people’s doubts regarding the election.
“We [CPB] are waging movements for causes of the toiling masses, such as fighting against gas and electricity price hike, and resisting high house rent. I hope people of DNCC will not fail to realise that we are their friends in need,” he said.
Sajedul, general secretary of CPB’s Dhaka committee and a dentist by profession, said his party is on a continuous mission to make Dhaka a liveable city. “We are taking part in the election as part of that mission. We are also participating to restore democracy,” he added.
“People still vividly remember the parliamentary election in December, 2018, where they were not allowed to vote,” claimed Sajedul.
He said if the mayoral election is not free and fair, the city’s people will not accept it, and they will start a movement against the government.
Sajedul said CPB is a pro-people party that always works for betterment of the working class. “Around two-thirds of Dhaka residents are members of the working class, so we are focusing on them,” he added.
“This time, people will start a process of change by voting for us. We need clean politics to achieve a clean Dhaka. A different leadership is essential for a liveable city,” he said.
He promised that he will ensure a green city where women and children will be comfortable and safe, and will work to reduce traffic congestion, establish effective waste management system and provide cheap housing facilities for poor people. He will also stand against any kind of illogical price hike of utilities.
His promises also include ensuring kitchen markets with unadulterated items, developing sufficient number of quality educational institutions, establishing hospitals and primary healthcare, and making the city friendly for people with disabilities.
Campaigners, mostly CPB workers and activists, paraded different lanes in and around Mirpur, and held several street meetings. They were also busy with distributing leaflets and handbills among passers-by.
CPB General Secretary M Shah Alam, CPB leaders MM Aksah and Dibalok Singha, and other local leaders took part in the campaign.