Calling upon voters to go to polling stations on February 1 braving any kind of obstruction, BNP’s mayoral candidates in the elections to Dhaka north and south city corporations on Sunday promised that they would fight against corruption if they are elected.
During their electioneering, BNP’s Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) mayoral contender Tabith Awal and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) mayoral runner Ishraque Hossain thanked the Election Commission (EC) for finally rescheduling the voting date showing respect for the Hindu community.
They, however, regretted that the students who will appear in this year’s Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and equivalent examinations face trouble as their routines were revised due to an ‘imprudent’ election schedule announced by the Election Commission.
Before beginning their election campaign for the 10th day today, both Tabith and Ishraque along with BNP senior leaders paid tributes to BNP founder Ziaur Rahman by placing wreaths at his grave, marking his 84th birth anniversary.
Later, Tabith started his electioneering from Mirpur BRTA area around 12noon and sought votes from locals.
Talking to reporters there he said, “We thank the Election Commission as they change the election date in the face of criticism and demand by people. We’re ready to participate in voting any day as people are with us.”
He urged the voters to remain aware so that no-one can snatch the victory of ‘Sheaf of Paddy, the election symbol of BNP. “Remain united and organised to ensure our victory.”
Later, the BNP candidate conducted electioneering in different areas of Mirpur and Bhasantek.
Speaking at a wayside rally at West Bhasantek, he urged the voters to go to voting centres foiling all plots and overcoming any kind of barrier to cast their votes in favour of BNP.
Tabith said he will work for turning Dhaka into a liveable and safe city if he comes out successful in the polls. “We’ll free the city corporation from corruption to ensure real development of the city.”
He expressed sympathy to the SCC examinees for the inconvenience caused to them with the deferment of their scheduled exams due to the revised voting date.
Tabith said if the Election Commission can ensure proper election atmosphere on the voting day all the BNP candidates, including the councillor ones, will turn out to be victorious.
Meanwhile, Ishraque started his campaign from Azimpur Bus Stand area by distributing leaflets among people.
In a brief address there, he said people are eagerly waiting to cast their votes for the Sheaf of Paddy. “My father is no longer alive. You voters are now my guardians. Pray for me, and I’m not sacred of any kind of threats and intimidation. I’ll remain there in the election race till the last minute.”
Stating that various plots are on to influence the election, the BNP candidate urged the voters to remain alert so that no-one can snatch their voting rights. “You’ll go to polling stations without any fear, and exercise your right to franchise.’
From Azimpur, Ishraque also carried out campaign in Chapra Mosjid, Jagannath Saha Road and Lalbagh areas.
Talking to journalists at Lalbagh, he said he will make Dhaka a green and safe city if he is elected DSCC mayor. “The city corporation will be freed from corruption. Only good will is enough to do it.”
The BNP candidate alleged that Dhaka has become the worst liveable city due to corruption and various irregularities of the city corporations over the last 10 years.
Like Tabith, Ishraque also hailed the EC’s decision of deferring the election date due to Saraswati Puja. “But the students wouldn’t have faced the trouble had the election schedule been announced earlier considering the Puja.”
BNP’s mayoral candidates in the elections to Dhaka’s two city corporations on Saturday said they were content with the Election Commission’s decision to give in to the demand from a number of quarters and delay the election
The DNCC and DSCC elections will now be held on February 1 instead of January 30.
Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) mayoral candidate Ishraque Hossain said “EC has taken a good decision. They should have considered the issue before announcing the election schedule. I think Hindus would be more pleased with the decision.”
Asked whether he accepts the change, Ishraque said “We definitely welcome the deferment as it was our demand too.”
He was talking to reporters at his residence in city’s Gopibagh soon after the announcement deferring the elections.
Meanwhile, BNP’s Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) polls mayoral candidate Tabith Awal came up with similar expression while talking to reporters at his residence in Gulshan.
“I am happy with the deferment. I applaud the EC that they have finally taken a decision in favour of people. It should have been decided earlier. The incident again proved their (EC) inefficiency,” he said.
Tabith Awal, BNP candidate in Dhaka North, sympathised with the SSC and equivalent examinees, as the deferment may affect their preparation for exams. .
On December 22 last, the Chief Election Commissioner announced the election schedule for the polls fixing January 30 as the polling day.
Thereafter different quarters, including the Hindu community, demanded the deferment of the elections to the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) slated for January 30 since it coincides with Saraswati Puja.
Eventually mayoral candidates also urged the EC to reschedule the election so that the Hindu community could celebrate Saraswati Puja, one of their major religious festivals, without having to cope with some of the restrictive arrangements that accompany elections these days (e.g. in transport or mobile networks where polls are taking place).
Amid widespread criticisms and movement by a group of Dhaka University students, the Election Commission finally decided to defer the date at an emergency meeting on Saturday.
Later, Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda disclosed the development around 9pm.
Describing the electronic voting machine (EVM) as a new method of rigging votes, Jatiya Oikyafront on Saturday warned that it will not allow the Election Commission (EC) to use it in the elections to two Dhaka city corporations.
At a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU), the alliance urged the EC to back off from its decision of using the EVM in the city polls.
“We would like to clearly say the entire world has rejected the EVM and it should be dumped in the Bay of Bengal, not in the Buriganga as the country’s people don’t want it. EVM use can’t be allowed,” said Oikyafront leader ASM Abdur Rob.
He further said, “EVM is the new method of rigging votes, and we’re protesting against it. This machine can’t be used.”
Rob, also the president of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JDS-Rob), called upon the EC to use traditional ballot papers in the city polls as the voters and most of the stakeholders do not support voting with EVM.
Asked whether their alliance may boycott the polls if the EC does not retreat from its decision of using the voting machine, he said they will continue their movement through the election. “Still, we don’t have any decision to boycott the election as our last resort to register our protest.”
The JSD president said as people do not have confidence both in the administration and the Election Commission, the government is trying to resort to evil designs to cling to power without holding free and fair elections.
He said their alliance thinks EVM is a weapon to snatch people’s voting rights since the machine will be operated by people like any other technology.
BNP Standing Committee Member Abdul Moyeen Khan, Gonoforum executive presidents Prof Abu Sayeed, Subrata Chowdhury, Nagorik Oikya Convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna and Gonoshasthya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury were, among others, present at the press conference.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Friday said their party is still struggling to recover from the 'losses' it suffered during its movements before and after the 2014 national election.
“As BNP is a liberal democratic party, no one should expect this party to stage a revolution. The party will move forward in its own fashion. We’re always on a movement…we go to court, hold discussions, and join polls as part of our movement,” he said.
Speaking at a roundtable discussion, the BNP leader also said they will move ahead together with people to hold a big movement, but they do not want to suffer a big blow like the 2015 one with any imprudent movement decision.
“We got experience during the movements of the 2014 election and in 2015. We’re still finding it difficult to recoup the losses we suffered through the movements at that time,” he observed.
Bangladesh Sammilita Peshajibi Parishad arranged the programme on the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the polls at the Jatiya Press Club.
Fakhrul said frustration can be there among the leaders and activists of their party leaders and activists as they have long been subjected to repressive acts like killing, enforced disappearance and repression. “We must inspire them to move ahead.”
He said people will take to the streets and be out in the field if proper political atmosphere prevails. “A huge number of people is now taking part in our processions centring the city corporation polls. We’ll surely be successful if we can organise them and lead them to a movement.”
The BNP leader also hoped that their party candidates will come out successful in the two city polls foiling all conspiracies. “We’ve taken part in the election to win it, not to get defeated.”
BNP’s mayoral candidate for the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) election Tabith Awal on Thursday demanded that voting be held with ballot papers, saying people are still not ready to use Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
He also urged the Hindu voters to cast their votes in favour of the ‘Sheaf of Paddy’, the election symbol of BNP, and thus give a reply to the injustice done to them fixing the election date on January 30 which coincides with Saraswati Puja.
Tabith started his election campaign on the seventh day on Thursday from in front of Bashundhara City Shopping Complex in the city’s Panthapath area.
Talking to reporters there, the BNP candidate said, “Considering the overall situation, we think people are still not ready to cast their votes using EVMs.”
He said the Election Commission (EC) itself has admitted that they have not sufficient trained manpower to conduct the voting through the EVMs. “We’re not against the technology, but we’re opposing the system.”
Tabith said the commission should have trained people from long time ago about using the EVMs to conduct the voting through those.
He called upon the Election Commission to back off from its decision of using EVMs in the polls as he said most voters do not want it.
The BNP candidate alleged that the ruling party is trying to intimidate voters by carrying out various attacks and issuing threats seeing people’s overwhelming response in favour of the ‘Sheaf of Paddy’.
He called upon the EC to take steps for ensuring a congenial election atmosphere.
While carrying out electioneering in West Tejturi Para, Tabith criticised the Election Commission and the government for fixing the date of voting on January 30. “We think they did it deliberately. It has exposed that the government doesn’t equally respect all the religions.”
The BNP candidate urged the Hindu voters not to boycott the polls and give their verdict in favour of BNP.
Later, Tabith carried out election campaign in Green Road, Tejgaon College, Indira Road, Khamarbari, Monipuripara, Aulad Hossin Market, Agargaon, Pirerbagh, Rokeya Swarani, Taltala Staff Quarters and Shyamoli areas.