Chattogram city polls 2021: BNP finds it hard to get polling agents | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 26, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:40 AM, January 26, 2021

Chattogram city polls 2021: BNP finds it hard to get polling agents

Cites harassment; campaign ends

As Chattogram City Corporation holds election tomorrow, both the Awami League and BNP camps ended their 18-day campaign early today.

The camps are now busy training their prospective polling agents.

Several BNP leaders told The Daily Star that they find it difficult to find enough people willing to be the polling agents, fearing harassment and arrest.

Often called the commercial capital of Bangladesh, Chattagram city has over 19.38 lakh voters.

AL mayor nominee Rezaul Karim Chowdhury and his BNP counterpart Shahadat Hossain spent the days of the campaign going from one area to another with their supporters.

On the last day of the campaign, the AL nominee emphasised that an AL man should continue to hold the office and complete unfinished development works.

Shahadat Hossain said voting for him was necessary to restore democracy and people's right to vote and ensure a corruption free Chattagram City Corporation.

BNP leaders last night said AL cadres were intimidating their activists.

BNP standing committee member Amir Khashru Mahmud Chowdhury, chief election coordinator for the polls, told The Daily Star that law enforcers were arresting their activists and leaders en masse.

BNP nominee Shahadat said many BNP leaders and  activists were staying away from home fearing harassment.

"Police and the ruling party men are going to the BNP supporters' residence and intimidating them, asking them to leave the area and telling them to return to their homes after the election," added Shahadat.

Before the last day's campaign, Shahadat at a press conference demanded immediate release of 69 leaders and activists arrested in a week.

"Otherwise, all BNP supported councilor candidates will stage a sit-in programme in front of the returning officer Hasanuzaman's office," he vowed.

He claimed that the BNP men were arrested in 10 false and fabricated cases against over 1,000 BNP activists.

Shahadat also said police arrested at least 20 BNP men on Sunday night at their homes.

He also demanded immediate withdrawal of officer-in-charge of Kotwali Police Station Nizam Uddin for acting in favour of the AL camp.

He added that he submitted 40 complaints to the returning officer about incidents of irregularities commited by AL men.

"But the returning officer didn't dispose of any of the complaints."

After the briefing, Shahadat went to the returning officer's office to submit a list of arrested BNP men and to request him for their release.

A BNP leader said there are 4,886 polling booths in 735 polling stations, meaning that they will have to find more than 5,000 people to act as polling agents.

In case there is a need for having backups, the number will reach upto 8,000.

The BNP has kept names of its polling agents a secret, party insiders said.

The picture in the AL camp is different as they face no harassment or risk.

A good number of AL central leaders are in Chattogram now.

AL nominee Rezaul is facing obstruction from his own party as supporters of former mayor AJM Masir and AL rebel councillors are allegedly not working in favour of the AL nominee, insiders said.


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