Different polls pulse within AL
Though the government seems firm on holding the polls on January 5, Awami League leaders at all levels and some even candidates are concerned about possible attacks on them during campaign and low voter turnout on the election day.
Given the ongoing violence, grassroots and mid-level leaders say, people are panicked and it would be difficult for them to persuade people to go voting. And a low turnout will compromise the election's acceptability.
They view the current situation as "unsuitable" for holding an election in a festive mood. To them, security rather than electioneering is the main issue at the moment.
Also, in the current arrangement, voters in at least 12 constituencies will be deprived of their voting rights as candidates in those seats have already been elected uncontested because there are no other contenders.
They are all AL leaders, including Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, Dipu Moni, Mrinal Kanti Das, Sheikh Helal Uddin, Abu Syed Al-Mahmud Swapan and Omar Faruk Chowdhury, according to the Election Commission.
The number would significantly rise if the Jatiya Party candidates pull out of the race in line with the party chief HM Ershad's decision.
Grassroots and mid-ranking leaders apart, many top leaders and even some candidates themselves shared their security concern with this correspondent. Several contenders were attacked allegedly by BNP-Jamaat cadres on their way to file nominations.
But top leaders would not make their fear public, thinking it would dampen the spirit of the party men. They said party chief Sheikh Hasina was aware of the reality, but she was still maintaining a bold face to keep the grassroots' morale high.
Shahin Chakladar, general secretary of the party's Jessore district unit, said voting could take place as the government had decided to hold the polls. "But due to the BNP-led 18-party's violence, voters are panicked and this will mean a low voter turnout."
A presidium member of the party agrees that the scenario is not ideal for holding polls and he apprehends attack by the opposition men. "But there is no option but to hold the election as it is a constitutional obligation," he said, requesting anonymity.
Last week, the opposition men attacked the house of Gazipur district AL president and lawmaker AKM Mozammel Haque. Tanvir Imam, AL candidate from Sirajganj-4, came under attack by the BNP men at Ullapara upazila. In Chapainawabganj, blockaders set fire to the house of Kansat movement leader Golam Rabbani, who got nomination from the AL.
AL General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam's motorcade came under attack at Tongi in Gazipur on his way to Kishoreganj.
"When criminals are out in the field, everyone is unsafe," said Momtaz Uddin, Bogra district unit AL president, referring to the ongoing street violence by the opposition men.
He expressed his concern about the voters and the party candidates.
According to Ahmad Hossain, acting president of Cox's Bazar AL, the polls would be more festive if all political parties participated in it. "We might have to face attack [during the campaign]."
But there are optimists too. Sheikh Nurul Islam, AL candidate for Satkhira-1, and Golam Mostofa Biswas, AL contender from Chapainawabganj-2, said turnout would vary from one constituency to another.
Both of them expected good voting environment and satisfactory turnouts in their seats.
However, they feared the same might not happen in all the constituencies.