BNP’s existence in the race a rare view
Pulack Ghatack: With only eight days left for the national parliamentary polls, leaders and activists of Jatiya Oikyafront are scarcely seen electioneering, though the opposition alliance has fielded candidates in all the three-hundred constituencies across the country.
Posters, pamphlets, leaflets and loudspeaker-blaring are largely sounding the presence of ruling Awami League-led grand alliance supporters in every corner of the capital and elsewhere of the country, while the opposition coalition’s existence in the race is only in name.
“The opposition is apparently outfaced before the result of the election to be held on December 30. We are not finding them in election canvassing,” said Akmal Hossain, Principle of the Lalmatia Housing Society School and College in the city.
BNP, the main component of Oikyafront, are alleging that its leaders and activists are being attacked by ruling party supporters in places, while trying to take out an election rally, since its formal start on December 10.
“This authoritarian government is using police, RAB, and all the government administration against BNP and Oikyafront leaders. Our members are being harassed, arrested, and attacked everywhere. They are not letting our candidates and supporters campaign peacefully,” BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said at a rally on Wednesday.
But some analysts say the poor presence of BNP in the electioneering is indicative of the party’s inherent weakness. BNP activists are not braving obstacles, if any, despite having a large support base, they observed.
National University Vice Chancellor Prof Harun-or-Rashid said, “BNP leaders totally failed to boost the confidence of its activists
about any possibility of their victory in the December 30 elections. Rather than competing with Awami League, the Oikyafront leaders dubbed police and the administration as their opponents from the very beginning, which was a wrong path.”
“They threatened the officers in police and civil administrations of dire consequences, once they can win and go to power. This kind of attitude appears apolitical,” Prof Harun, who is a teacher of political science, told the Daily Observer.
While roaming around some roads and alleys in the Dhaka-6 constituency -that covers Sutrapur, Wari, Gendaria and parts of Kotwali and Bangshal of the capital -this correspondent did not find any sign of election campaign by the BNP activists.
Former city mayor Sadek Hossain Khoka’s son Ishrak Hossain intended to contest from the area using the ‘paddy sheaf’ symbol of the BNP. But the party left the seat to Subrata Chowdhury, executive president of its ally Gano Forum, who has no previous association with the BNP.
Ruling Awami League, on the other hand left the seat to Grand Alliance ally Jatiya Party’s Presidium Member Kazi Feroz Rashid, who has been competing under his party’s symbol ‘plough’.
Awami League leaders and activists of the area are running the campaign for Firoz Rashid, but no BNP leaders or activists were seen to campaign for Subrata. Locals said that they saw processions of people chanting slogans for the plough, but they never saw any campaigner for paddy sheaf.
When asked some locals whether they witnessed confrontations over election campaign or found anybody to attack the paddy sheaf campaigners. They answered “No.”
“I did not see anybody disturbing BNP activists during their election campaign. But they are not in the field. I don’t know the reason,” said Mahmud Hossain, 48, a street vendor at Sutrapur.
“I do not find any paddy sheaf posters in alleyways. There are many posters for other candidates,” Yaqub Hosain, 32, a rickshawpuller in Gendaria said.
Posters or election campaign by BNP activists are rarely visible on Topkhana Road, Segunbagicha and Shantinagar, the central part of the capital.
Some people in Segunbagicha told this correspondent that they saw scuffles between two groups twice last week. Awami League men chased BNP campaigners, as they tried to bring out processions in support of Mirza Abbas, an Oikyafront candidate.
Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon, who is contesting from the ruling grand alliance in the constituency, however, trashed the allegation and said, “It is the BNP candidate and his followers, who are trying to create disturbance and terrifying the people. Our people are going door to door seeking votes from people in a peaceful manner.”
Our correspondents from different districts have reported absence of BNP’s election campaign in many places. They also reported some incidents of attacks on BNP candidates and vandalising of election camps for paddy sheafs in some places.
There are also reports of some attacks on Awami League leaders and activists and killing of three leaders of the party in separate incidents, after beginning of the election race, while no report of killing of any BNP leader was received from anywhere of the country. However the number of small-scale attacks on BNP leaders and activists was relatively high.
Apparently demoralised BNP activists, with the party’s Chairperson Khaleda Zia in jail and Acting Chairman Tarique Rahman in self exile, are not braving to take to the streets to face a minimum obstacle as they saw a bleak possibility of a win in the election.