BNP leaders fear their another ‘drubbing’ in city polls
BNP policymakers fear their party’s another poor show in the January-30 city polls as it did in Chattogram-8 by-polls for many reasons, including the low turnout of voters and ‘attacks by opponents’.
Besides, the party senior leaders who strongly oppose its joining any election under the current government and the Election Commission (EC) are now questioning the justification of participating in the city polls, the UNB reported.
They are mounting pressure on the party policymakers to quit the election race right now.
However, the BNP standing committee members who advocated for participating in the elections think their party would have faced serious criticisms by different quarters and the party’s grassroots had it not joined the important polls like two city corporations.
They also said Chattogram by-polls have demonstrated once again that no election under the current government and the EC to be fair, no its mater ballot or electronic voting machine (EVM) being used in it.
The BNP leaders said they are now working out various strategies to ensure the presence of their election agents at every polling station, and encourage voters to go to polling stations to cast their votes braving all the adversities.
They also hinted that they may not join any other election under the current government and EC if the city polls are not held in a fair and credible manner.
Awami League candidate Moslem Uddin Ahmed was unofficially declared elected in the Chattogram-8 by-polls on Monday.
Returning Officer Md Hasanuzzaman said the voter turnout in the election was only 23 percent. The voting was held with EVMs.
At a conference, Sufian alleged that activists of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) drove voters out of polling stations after taking their fingerprints and captured 120 polling centres out of 170 during the polls.
BNP secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the verdict of voters of the Chattogram-8 constituency was not reflected in the by-polls as they were not allowed to go to polling stations and cast their votes.
He said their party candidate would have won the by-polls had it been held in a fair and credible manner. “The by-polls have proved once again that elections can’t be fair under the current government and the EC.”
Asked whether the Chattogram by-election will have an impact on the city polls, Fakhrul said they have long been talking about irregularities in the polls. “We fear the same scenario can be created in the city polls as the Election Commission has so far not taken any visible step to ensure credible voting.”
He, however, said they are making efforts to convince voters to go to voting centres to cast their votes and put up a resistance against unjust and irregularities.
BNP standing committee member Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury said the ruling party men equipped with arms ‘captured’ all the centres of the Chattogram by-polls and ‘rigged’ votes through EVMs.
He said the ruling party has started taking preparations to take the results of the elections to Dhaka south and north city corporations in its favour in the same fashion. “I myself went to the Election Commission, and they assured us of not arresting our leaders and activists until January 30. But the arrest drives against our party leaders and activists are going on. The ruling party is also trying to create a scary situation ahead of the voting through attacking our leaders and activists and intimidating them.”
BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said the voter turnout was only 23 percent in Monday’s by-polls in Chattogram mainly for two reasons -- obstruction to voters from going to the polling stations and voters’ lack of confidence in EVMs.”
“People think election won’t be fair if it’s held using EVMs. That’s why they’re less interested in exercising their voting rights. It’s a matter of serious concern. If voters don’t go to polling stations how people’s genuine representatives will be elected.”
Mosharraf said the EC should cancel its decision of using EVMs in the city polls to encourage voters to cast their votes.
“We’ve strong doubt that the city polls won’t be fair and voters won’t be allowed to go to voting centres by creating panic among them. As we’re in the race, we’re devising various strategies to overcome all the barriers. We’re working to motivate people to go to polling stations under any circumstances,” he added.
Two BNP standing committee members, wishing anonymity, said the Chattogram by-polls is a wakeup call for their party policymakers to rethink about remaining in the polls race in the capital as they think the voting will be held in the same manner like Monday’s one.