The BNP’s Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) mayoral candidate Ishraque Hossain on Saturday called upon voters in general and his supporters in particular to turn the other cheek in the face of any provocation till the election is over and victory is achieved.
“Next week is our final test. You all will go to the centres to cast your votes on February 1. We must achieve the result that began with the upsurge in support for dhaner shish (sheaf of paddy - the BNP’s electoral symbol). So I urge you all, voters and supporters, not to respond to any provocative activities,” Ishraque said, while campaigning in Old Dhaka’s Bangshal area.
Ishraque also urged his supporters not to fear anyone. “We are with you in the field. We will oust the dictator with the country’s people. So don’t fear anyone,” he promised.
After offering Asr prayers at a local mosque, Ishraque distributed leaflets among shopkeepers, pedestrians and residents of different areas of Old Dhaka and solicited votes for dhaner shish.
Later, Ishraque exchanged views with the Hindu community at Dhakeshwari National Temple in the evening.
“The BNP gave a new dimension to democracy through establishing the caretaker government in 1996 here. But the ruling government killed democracy cancelling the system. The people will establish democracy again in the country starting with voting for BNP in the city polls,” he also said.
Ishraque said he will draw up a masterplan for the next 100 years to build a developed Dhaka city if he is elected in the polls.
Juba Dal general secretary Sultan Salauddin Tuku, Bangladesh Labour Party Chairman Dr Mustafizur Rahman Iran, councillor candidates, and BNP’s leaders and activists accompanied Ishraque all the way.
BNP senior leader Moudud Ahmed alleged that Bangladesh is now under the grip of one-party Baksal rule like that of 1975.
“What’s now going on in this country is a one-party rule like in 1975. Now there’s no politics in the country as in 1975. There’s also no effective parliament, the rule of law, freedom of press and independence of the judiciary like that period,” he said.
The BNP leader further said, “One-party rule had been introduced in 1975 formally by amending the constitution and the same system has been put in operation informally in a planned way. They (AL) established dictatorship and fascism undercover of democracy, and destroyed the spirit of the Liberation War.”
Moudud, a BNP standing committee member, came up with the allegation at a press conference at BNP chairperson’s Gulshan office arranged by the party on the day of introduction of one-party Baksal rule through the fourth amendment to the constitution in 1975.
He said there is no alternative to unity among the people of all walks of life to get rid of the current situation of the country. “We think the victory of spirit of the Liberation War and democracy is inevitable.”
About the background of the fourth constitutional amendment on January 25, 1975, Moudud said the constitution amendment bill was passed on that day only by 11 minutes without any discussion and debate in parliament.
Later, he said, the then Prime Minister had taken oath as the President and gained absolute power to govern the country.
“Awami League’s senior leader Khandaker Mushtaq Ahmed with the help of some military officials took over power by killing the Father of the Nation on August 15, 1975 and enforced martial law in the country. All but four Awami League cabinet members and MPs remained there in their posts, and the same government killed the four national leaders at Dhaka Central jail,” the BNP leader said.
He said it is BNP founder Ziaur Rahman who introduced multiparty democracy ending the one-party rule to fulfill people’s hopes and aspirations and materialise their dreams.
Moudud claimed that Zia established a democratic governing system in the light of the constitution of 1972, and restored people’s basic rights, the independence of the judiciary and press freedom.
He said Awami League again restored the one-party rule indirectly after assuming office in 2009.
“This system (Baksal) is never acceptable to the people of Bangladesh. People want to get back democracy and the spirit of the Liberation War, and they entrusted BNP with the responsibility to restore those,” the BNP leader added.
BNP standing committee members Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan, Nazrul Islam Khan, Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury, Selima Rahman, Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku, vice chairmen Abdullah Al Noman, and Barkatullah Bulu were, among others, present.
BNP senior leader Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury on Saturday said people are eagerly waiting for casting their votes for the ‘Sheaf of Paddy’ in the elections to Dhaka north and south city corporations.
"Dhaka city dwellers have decided to vote for the Sheaf of Paddy on February 1. They’re now keenly waiting for casting their votes,” he said.
Amir Khasru, a BNP standing committee member, came up with the remarks while speaking at a discussion arranged by Bangladesh Democratic Council at Dhaka Reporters' Unity.
He urged people to go to polling stations braving all the barriers to give the ruling party a fitting reply through their votes against its ‘misdeeds’.
“They (AL) will be defeated if we can go out in the field with courage. We must wake up to oust them. So, get ready to play a strong role on February 1,” the BNP leader said pointing at their party leaders and activists.
He said people are questioning the justification of their party’s decision of joining the city polls as the government is trying to ‘force’ all the state machinery and officials to ensure the ruling party’s victory.
“We’ve taken part in the polls so that people can use their scope of casting votes. We know as the entire world does what is happening in our country. But we don’t want to deprive people of their option (of exercising their right to franchise),” Khosru added.
He said people do not get any interest in going to polling stations if BNP does not remain there in the polls.
BNP’s Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) mayoral candidate Ishraque Hossain on Friday said he will announce his election manifesto on Monday.
“The ruling party has been in power for a long time but failed to give the people anything. I think they won’t be able to change the city and ensure the residents’ rights this time too,” he said while campaigning in the city’s Faridabad area after weekly Jum’ah prayers.
“I share my plan with the voters during election campaign daily but I’ll formally announce election manifesto on January 27,” he said.
Ishraque said the people have begun rising against the misrule of the government.
“Go to polling stations and vote for us,” he said.
Later, Ishraque campaigned in several wards of Old Dhaka and solicited votes for Sheaf of Paddy – BNP’s electoral symbol.
Nagorik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna, Labour Party Chairman Mustafizur Rahman Iran and BNP’s leader and activists took part in the election campaign.
Meanwhile, DSCC mayoral candidate of Islami Andolan Bangladesh Maulana Abdur Rahman also carried out daylong canvassing in parts of the city including Kamrangirchar, Government Madrasah-E-Alia playground, Topkhana Road and Jurain area.
The office of ward number 56 independent councillor aspirant was vandalised and torched, allegedly by Awami League-backed candidate in Borogram area in Kamrangirchar on Friday afternoon.
Saidur Rahman Ratan, Kamrangirchar Awami League general secretary, said his rival Md Hossain came to his office with 500-600 of his followers and ordered him to withdraw from Dhaka South City Corporation polls scheduled for Feb 1.
He claimed that they vandalised and torched his office when he refused to stand down.
Witnesses said that they heard between 15 and 20 gunshots during the attack. Kamrangirchar police confirmed that shots were fired but Officer-in-Charge Mashiur Rahman could not say which side had opened fire.
Rahman said two groups clashed around 3:30pm. “We took the situation under control within half an hour,” he said.
Five to six followers of Saidur Rahman were injured. They received first aid at local hospitals, the OC said.
Md Hossain, the AL-backed candidate, could not be reached for comments despite repeated attempts.