Osmans' role could be a crucial factor
Ruling party lawmaker Shamim Osman is still at the centre of discussion in Narayanganj and there are speculations among the people as to what he and his men might or might not do in today's polls.
Despite not being in the race, the controversial lawmaker remains a key character in Narayanganj as the Osman family has a vote bank in the city corporation area.
Following the electoral code of conduct, the Narayanganj-4 lawmaker did not take part in the campaign, but what his followers might do on election day is a matter of concern for both the Awami League and BNP-nominated mayor candidates.
“Many ward councillors [candidates] are his followers. To ensure their victory, Shamim's men might do something and this might create a chaotic situation, especially in Siddhirganj area,” Mahmud Mia, a trader of Shiddhirganj, told The Daily Star.
Though Shamim publicly extended support to Awami League candidate Selina Hayat Ivy, it is hard to believe that he and his followers would back Ivy, he said.
Until yesterday, no major incident of election violence or violation of elctoral code of conduct was reported. However, voters are still apprehensive of some councillor candidates. About 34 candidates have criminal records.
According local politicians and the city people, the influence of the Osman family will play a crucial role in determing the fate of the mayor and many councillor candidates.
BNP nominated Shakhawat Hossain Khan is Ivy's main rival.
Rafiur Rabbi, an aide to Ivy, told The Daily Star, “Shamim Osman might hatch conspiracies on election day. Those who are known to have a bad reputation, especially the councillors, might influence the voting, but I think they wouldn't be successful.”
“I think Shamim Osman might face trouble if he goes against the ruling party nominated candidate. It might put his political career at risk,” he added.
The Osman family drew flak on many occasions as their names came up in several incidents, particularly the humiliation of a headmaster, killing of schoolboy Tawki and the sensational seven-murder of Narayanganj.
In the 2011 polls, Ivy defeated AL-backed Shamim by one lakh votes though the city was known to be a stronghold of the Osman brothers, whose grandfather, Khan Shaheb Osman Ali, was a founding member of the AL.
“Those who created chaotic and abnormal situation in the past might do the same on election day. We are concerned,” said ATM Kamal, city BNP general secretary.
The Osman family has adopted a strategy to keep its dominance by extending support to ward councillor candidates, irrespective of political affiliations.
Talking to various sections of people, it was learnt that the family extended support to some AL-backed councillor candidates, some BNP minded canddiates and a few Jatiya Party candidates.
For example, Shawkat Hasem Shaku, city BNP joint secretary, is running for councillor post in ward-12 and he is backed by Shamim's supporters.
Sources in the returning office said rival ward councillor candidates might be a reason for their headache.
“We've taken extra security measures at the most important polling centres,” Nuruzzaman Talukdar, returning officer of NCC polls, told journalists yesterday.
Mahfuzul Huq Nuruzzaman, deputy inspector general of Dhaka range police, said there would be no incidents like snatching of ballot boxes in the NCC polls.
“We're ready to hold a free and credible election. I assure you all that a free and fair election would be held, which would be a model. We don't want any controversial polls,” he told journalists at a press conference.
Meanwhile, Ivy and Shakhawat spent the whole day yesterday mostly holding meetings with party leaders and activists.
Ivy was in her Paschim Dewbogh home and had talked to party leaders and activists.
“I will not talk to the media today [yesterday]... I'm busy working out election strategies.”
Shakhawat, on the other hand, went to the BNP office in the morning and had a meeting with its leaders. In the afternoon, he went to his media cell office and talked to party men.
“The voting atmosphere is still not congenial as arms were recovered even today [yesterday],” he claimed.
Nur Hossain, the arrested prime accused in the sensational seven-murder case, is allegedly influencing voters of his area, ward-4.
Ariful Hasan, a councillor aspirant of ward-4 and also a former associate of Nur, said, “Nur Hossain is making phone calls from behind bars and threatening my supporters.”