Dhaka, Dec 14 (UNB) -The pre-election campaign has brought vibrancy in every corner of the country with debates over tea in tea stalls -- both in urban settings and in remote villages. A festive mood is prevailing, though there is a fear of violence.
But in this age of digitalisation, candidates cannot avoid election campaign through digital platforms and voters are also curious to follow what is happening on social media platforms.
From new to heavyweight candidates contesting in the upcoming national election scheduled for December 30, all political campaigns are seen to have a digital presence these days.
“What’s happening on the ground is traditional one having huge impact on voters. But you cannot avoid digital campaign using social media platforms,” said political party worker Nazim Uddin Parvez, who is campaigning in favour of Shamsul Hoque Chowdhury, Awami League candidate from Chattogram-12 constituency.
Parvez finds it easy, less costly and one of the best ways to stay engaged with voters as many young voters spend much of their time on social media, a majority of them preferring Facebook.
It shows a good number of candidates representing various political parties, including Awami League, BNP, Jatiya Party and others remain active to capitalise on Facebook.
The supporters of the candidates are seen sharing live election campaign activities from the ground, pre-recorded speeches highlighting their various positive activities in their respective constituencies, digital posters and people’s voices in an effort to gain support from the voters.
For almost every candidate, a Facebook page (apart from their personal account) based on their public profile is the first step towards their ‘digital campaign’.
SM Jaglul Hayder, a Grand Alliance candidate, from Satkhira-4 constituency, shared several photos on his page from his election campaign. “You’ll get me beside you round the clock during your good and bad days,” he wrote to voters sharing a photo in which he holds up two paper boats.
Maj Gen (retd) Syed Muhammad Ibrahim Bir Protik, a candidate of the BNP-led 20-party alliance, shared a long post expressing his optimism about victory. “We’ll surely go for casting votes. We’ll surely remain present at the polling centers on the election day and we’ll surely return home with victory, InshaAllah.”
A Facebook page dedicated to AL heavyweight candidate from Dhaka-1 constituency Salman F Rahman and adviser to the Prime Minister, also shared digital posters and videos on people’s voice.
Salma Islam of Jatiya Party, a sitting MP from the seat, is also contesting the election for the constituency as an independent candidate after the AL-led grand alliance nominated Salman, a top businessman who with his brother founded Beximco Group. Salma is the wife of another top businessman Nurul Islam Babul, the owner of Jamuna Group.
Dedicated Facebook pages for Grand Alliance candidate and Social Welfare Minister Rashed Khan Menon; and BNP candidate Mirza Abbas in Dhaka-8 constituency are sharing their regular activities on their election campaigns.
Apart from campaign staff, ordinary supporters are also sharing election related-media such as songs and videos released by the respective campaigns, on behalf of their favoured party or candidates on social media, apart from playing those songs at election campaigns at the field level.
The verified Facebook page of Bangladesh Awami League was also found sharing videos depicting the progress made so far in the country under the party’s leadership and conveying the message, “We’re in favour of Bangladesh under the leadership of (Prime Minister) Sheikh Hasina.”
Inevitably, some candidates have come face-to-face with some of the pitfalls of the digital domain as well.
BNP-led alliance candidate and Bangladesh Jatiya Party Chairman Andaleeve Rahman Partho, a former MP and avid advocate of technology (he even petitioned to use EVMs at his constituency Dhaka-17), is also actively using Facebook for campaign purposes, and shared a video appealing to young voters on his verified Facebook page on December 11 that was well-appreciated and quite widely shared.
Today though, an update on his verified page said his personal Facebook account has been hacked. “….please be careful of any status given from that account.”
Narayanganj, Dec 14 (UNB) – People of the district are being deprived of quality healthcare services as most of the private clinics and hospitals have no Intensive Care Unit(ICU) and modern operation theatres.
They also lack sufficient doctors with requisite expertise and nurses to provide proper care for patients.
As a result, the number of accidental deaths of Narayanganj residents due to wrong treatment or negligence by doctors and the authorities of private hospitals and clinics has been rising in recent times.
For commercial concerns, the doctors of some private hospitals and clinics do not want to refer patients to other hospitals even when they lack the facilities for their treatment.
Though a few cases have been filed in this regard, most of the guilty people manage to avoid censure using their connections with influential persons.
On October 23, Choya Moni, daughter of Kamrul Islam, a resident of Bhobonathpur village in Sonargong upazila, died after being treated at a local clinic named ‘Natun Sheba’. Relatives and local claimed that due to wrong treatment, Choya died.
On October 9, Tahmina Khan, a seven month pregnant woman, wife of Ibrahim Kazi, a resident of Siddhirganj under the Signboard area, died at Pro-active Medical College Hospital due to negligence of duty doctor, claimed her relatives.
Tahmina felt ill at noon on that day. Then she was then taken to the hospital where a doctor instructed nurses to push an injection to her. After that her condition deteriorated leading to her death.
Being agitated at this incident locals and relatives of the victim vandalized the hospital. Later, on information, police went to the hospital and brought the situation under control.
No case was filed in this connection as the matter was ‘resolved’ through a local influential person overnight.
On September 29, a woman and her unborn baby died allegedly due to wrong treatment at New Popular Hospital, a private hospital, in Fatullah of the district. However, the doctor under whom the surgery was conducted blamed the patient's husband for the deaths.
Afterwards, relatives of the dead-- ShilpiAkter, 32, wife of AlamgirHossain of Delpara area in PurbaFatullah-- ransacked the hospital. Police detained the hospital's four owners, a doctor and a nurse over the incident.
Quoting husband Alamgir, Sub-Inspector (SI) of Fatullah Police Station DidarulAlam said Shilpi Akter was around five months pregnant at the time of her death. She began feeling unwell on September 28 afternoon and was brought to the hospital where she was examined by Dr Jessica RizviT amanna. She was then admitted to the hospital.
Alamgir claimed that the next morning, hospital authorities told Alamgir that his wife needed to have a c-section and that he needed to bring the required blood by the next day’s morning.
However, the doctors decided to go ahead with the operation the same day without getting the blood or the family's consent. Both mother and child died after the operation.
UNB tried to contact district civil surgeon Dr. Ehsanul Haque several times in this regard, but failed to elicit any response.
Dhaka, Dec 14 (UNB) – The Election Commission will deploy nearly 1,300 judicial and executive magistrates to ensure that the electoral code of conduct is properly followed by candidates.
The 11th parliamentary polls will be a crucial election for Bangladesh and is likely to attract close attention both at home and abroad.
More than half of the Parliament seats were elected uncontested in the last election after the BNP and its allies boycotted it. But the party has decided to join the fray this time and has long been accusing the EC of being partisan and subservient to the government.
For the KM Huda-led EC, according to election observers, the December-30 election will be the biggest test. It will have to ensure free and fair balloting while maintaining law and order.
The EC has ordered the law enforcement agencies to carry out their duties impartially. And drafting a huge number of magistrates is part of the EC’s plan to hold an acceptable election.
What will magistrates do?
The magistrates will be in the field for four days from December 29 to January 1. They will conduct summary trials for electoral violence and polls code breach, said an EC notification.
A judicial magistrate can hand down up to seven-year imprisonment, while an executive magistrate can sentence an offender to maximum two years in jail, said Md Sharif Hossain Hayder, the EC deputy secretary (law).
Nearly 650 judicial magistrates, and as many executive magistrates, will be deployed during the four-day period.
Last month, the EC drafted 640 judicial magistrates in consultation with the Supreme Court. It also deployed about 650 executive magistrates after the announcement of the election schedule.
EC officials said the commission will call out more executive magistrates before and after the polls.
The EC has instructed the officials to act neutrally and treat everyone equally.
Where will they be deployed?
A judicial magistrate will be deployed in each upazila.
Besides, there will be one judicial magistrate for several wards of the city corporations. One or two of these officials will discharge duties in every sadar municipality of each district.
Each upazila has one executive magistrate, except the Chattogram Hill Tract (CHT) where there is one magistrate for every three to four upazilas.
Apart from them, one executive magistrate will be deployed for three to four city corporation wards, but each district sadar municipality will have one or two magistrates.
Dhaka, Dec 12 (UNB) – Two major political alliances on Wednesday formally kicked off their electioneering to woo voters as Awami League wants to retain power for the third consecutive terms while BNP is desperate to return to power after 12 years through the battle of ballot on December 30.
As all the political parties are there in the election race, political analysts think the polls will be very competitive, and both the ruling and opposition camps must demonstrate their smartness through their words, actions and election campaigns to pave their way for assuming office with public support.
They said incumbency factor and apparent conflicts within the Grand Alliance and some rebel candidates are the major worries for Awami League.
On the other hand, they said, intraparty conflicts, lack of Khaleda Zia’s absence for electioneering, anger among the party rank and file over nomination of around 50 candidates of the party and alliance partners, cases against its leaders and activists and continued arrest of its followers are major concerns for BNP to fare well in the election.
A total of 272 candidates are contesting the election with 'Boat', the electoral symbol of Awami League, while 298 with BNP’s electoral symbol 'Sheaf of Paddy'.
Out of total 300 constituencies, Awami League fielded its own candidates in 258 while shared the rest 42 with its partners from the Grand Alliance.
BNP has shared 59 seats with its partners from the Jatiya Oikyafront and the 20-party alliances and fielded its own candidates in 241 parliamentary seats.
Though the ruling party kept aside 27 constituencies for its major Grand Alliance partner Jatiya Party, it fielded candidates in 158 more seats independently.
Awami League leaders said they will highlight huge development activities carried out by their government over the last 10 years as a card to persuade voters apart from projecting misdeeds of BNP.
Besides, they said, they will reach an understanding with their alliance partners, especially with Jatiya Party, soon to ensure single candidate of the Grand Alliance in most seats and convince their rebel candidates to stay aside.
As majority of the voters are young, the ruling party leaders said they will give various messages during their campaign to attract them.
BNP leaders said they will try to get people’s sympathy by talking about the release of its chairperson Khaleda Zia from jail alongside highlighting their various innovative ideas for welfare of the country’s people of all walks of life and generating employment.
They also said they will project the government’s various misdeeds, repressive and anti-democratic acts, extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearances and corruption to 'convince voters to ‘reject’ Awami League.
BNP leaders said they will offer many attractive proposals for the welfare of young generation to appease them.
Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader said women and young voters will be the main weapons for Awami League to win the election.
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has established Digital Bangladesh for the advancement of young people while honoured women inserting a provision for mothers’ signatures alongside fathers for birth registration,” he said.
Quader also said they have neither any intra-party conflict nor any problem with their alliance partners.
The Awami League leader said people will elect their party for the continuation of the development pace.
BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said their party candidates cannot smoothly carry out election campaign across the country as the ruling party has established its supremacy everywhere across the country.
He said the ruling party is resorting to violence to intimidate people as it has no public support. “We’ll win the election if it is held 50 percent fair.”
Nagorik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna said their alliance candidates are seeking votes from people to have Khaleda Zia released from jail and free the country from repression, enforced dispense and restore people’s ownership of the country.
Besides, he said, they are trying to appease young voters with many promises and making them aware of their voting rights.
Contacted, Dhaka University ex-Vice Chancellor AAMS Arefin Siddiqui said getting public support is the main challenge for all the candidates of all parties to win the election.
“The candidates and their parties must show their smartness with good strategies, promises and action plans to attract voters,” he added.
Dr Arefin thinks both the ruling and opposition alliance will not suffer much for their rebel and additional candidates as an understanding will be created among them before the balloting.
Another DU ex-VC Prof Emajuddin Ahmed said BNP and Oikyafront should not quit the election under any circumstances. “They’ll have to go to people and tell them what situation they are facing. They’ll get people’s compassion as Khaleda Zia is in jail.”
Dhaka, Dec 12 (UNB) - The construction of stalls and pavilions for the Dhaka International Trade Fair (DITF) has gathered pace as the opening day of the next edition approaches fast.
Organisers and participants say they are optimistic that the installation work will be completed well before the fair begins on January 9 at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar. The venue will permanently be shifted to Purbachal from 2021.
Director General of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) Avijit Chowdhury told UNB that they have recently visited the fair ground and are happy with the way things are moving.
“This year, local and foreign traders will showcase their products at more than 500 stalls and pavilions,” he said.
Polls push back opening date
This time, the opening date has been pushed back by a week as Bangladesh’s next national election will be held on December 30.
Avijit explained that it was not possible to follow the normal schedule and organise the fair on January 1 like previous years.
“Organising the fair a day after the national election will be impossible, since the law enforcement and government officials will remain busy,” he told UNB. “The Prime Minister’s Office has permitted us to start the fair on January 9.”
Local brands getting ready for showoff
Several popular local brands, including Walton and Pran, have been showcasing their long lines of products featuring home accessories, electronics and food items every year.
“Walton always tries to offer new things. We’ll launch special products this time, too,” Group Executive Director (Public Relations, Media and Branding) Humayun Kabir told UNB.
Walton said it has been constructing its pavilion since last month and expects that the work to be completed within December. “We’re constructing a two-storey pavilion and a three-storey one boasting unique and modern architectural designs,” Kabir said.
He hoped Walton will attract a large number of visitors like previous years.
PRAN-RFL Group is also getting ready. Its home accessories were among some of the popular items at the last trade fair.
KM Zeaul Haque, the Group’s assistant general manager (public relation department), said their pavilions will be completed soon and hinted at introducing new items.