Dhaka, Dec 29 (UNB) – Though the Jatiya Oikyafront is firm on its decision to stay in the election race till the last moment under any circumstance, its leaders look worried over ensuring the presence of their agents and common voters in polling stations across the country.
Talking to UNB, some alliance leaders and candidates have said they are facing a serious problem as many of their probable election agents are on the run in fear of getting arrested or harassed as law enforcers were raiding their houses.
Some candidates alleged that police have already arrested some of their agents, plunging them in deep trouble to replace them.
Besides, they alleged, common voters are sacred due to pre-election violence and ‘intimidation’ by ruling party men and law enforcers.
A leader close to BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said many candidates were making phone calls to their senior leaders to get their permission to quit the election race as they think it is useless to remain in the polls since their agents are getting arrested and threatened not to go to polling stations.
However, a BNP standing committee member said they are giving their leaders and activists various directives to remain alert and stay in safe places to avoid arrest before the voting. “We’re also giving them some other instructions about how they will discharge their duty and cheek vote fraud.”
He said they also worked out some strategies to ensure the presence of their candidates’ agents at every voting centre and encourage people to go to polling stations defying all odds and obstacles. “We believe the scenario will change if voters can go to the polling stations.”
BNP standing committee member and Oikyafront candidate for Dhaka-3 seat Gayeshwar Chandra Roy said, “I was injured in a serious attack by my opponents, but I’m not scared and suppressed.”
He said he will be there in the race, no matter what come may. “People will surely stage a vote revolution overcoming all barriers.”
Replying to a question, Gayeshwar said like other candidates, he is also concerned about the security of his election agents.
BNP candidate for Laxmipur-3 constituency Shahid Uddin Chowdhury Anee said, “We’re in the election in a dreadful situation. Our leaders and activists are being attacked and arrested. We’re not getting any help from the administration.”
He said some of his election agents have already been arrested by police and they continued their drive to arrest others. “It’ll be a very difficult job for us to send agents to every polling station due to arrest and harassment by police and ruling party activists.”
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal general secretary and Oikyafront’s Cumilla-4 seat candidate Abdul Malek Ratan said people are eagerly waiting to cast their votes, but the mass arrest of opposition activists is going on to frighten them.
He said he did not disclose the names of his possible election agents, but some of them have already been arrested.
Mahmudur Rahman Manna, convener of Nagorik Oikya and Oikyafront contender for Bogura-2 constituency, said his five possible agents were arrested by police while law enforcers were raiding the houses of BNP leaders and activists and trying to make people panicked. “I didn’t disclose the list of my agents. But police are arresting people suspecting them as my agents.”
He said people have got a bit demoralised due to attacks on BNP leaders and activists and intimidation by his opponents. “Ruling party cadres are asking people not to go to polling stations.”
Gano Forum executive president and Oikyafront candidate for Dhaka-6 Subrata Chowdhury said voting will be held in his constituency through electronic voting machines, but ruling party men were asking people not to go to police stations. “I can’t understand how the voting will be held if people can’t go to the polling stations.”
He said his election agents are on the run in fear of getting arrested as police were patrolling the area and arresting opposition activists.
BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said law enforcers and ruling party cadres were forcing BNP candidates’ agents and their supporters to leave their areas. “A scaring situation has been prevailing everywhere as armed Awami League cadres are staging showdown at every village”
He alleged that the Chief Election Commissioner has tied up the army after letting them in the field. “They’re not being allowed to work independently. Everything is happening under the supervision of the Chief Election Commissioner at the behest of the Prime Minister.”
The BNP leader, however, said there will be a vote revolution on Sunday even after the prevailing adverse situation.
Rizvi claimed that some 10,329 BNP were arrested, 844 ‘fictitious and false’ cases filed and 2,896 attacks carried out, 13,252 injured and nine party men were killed till Thursday since the announcement of the election schedule.