A few BNP-supported councillor candidates have withdrawn from the Barishal City Corporation polls race following pressure from powerful quarters, BNP leaders and activists have alleged.
Three Awami League-backed councillors candidates are going to win uncontested in Barishal City Corporation as the BNP candidates have withdrawn from the contest.
The BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami leaders said the AL has become desperate to win councillor positions up for grab in the elections.
The ruling party secured only five such posts out of 30 in the past elections. The BNP candidates came out winners in 19 councillor posts.
Five BNP-backed councillor candidates said they are being constantly pressured to withdraw from the race.
They alleged that their activists and supports are also being threatened and barred from election campaign.
Zakir Hossain, a councillor of Barishal City Corporation’s ward no. 15, secured victory in the three consecutive eelctions.
This time around, he has withdrawn his candidature.
An AL-backed councillor candidate Liakat Hossain, who is AL president of the ward, is set to win uncontested in the ward.
AL-backed Mosharraf Ali Khan and Gazi Naimul Hossain are also going to win uncontested in ward no. 16 and ward no. 19 respectively as BNP-backed Quamrul Hassan and Sumon Haldar have withdrawn their candidature.
Asked about the matter, Quamrul Hassan, who is general secretary of the BNP’s ward no. 16 unit, said, “There was a pressure. A family problem was there as well. Finally, I’ve withdrawn my candidature.”
Jamaat candidates are contesting in 4 wards in the civic polls. However, two of their councillor aspirants came up with the same allegations.
Jamaat’s councillor candidate at ward no. 14 Md Salauddin said, “We can’t go for canvassing due to various pressure on us. Party leaders and activists are threatened. Two days ago, several leaders and activists of the party were beaten up.”
The voters at several wards also think the BNP and Jamaat candidates are facing pressures as the polling date is nearing.
None of the voters, with whom the reporters talked to, wanted to mention their names.
BNP and Jamaat leaders said the AL has taken various ‘tactics’ to win the polls.
AL-backed candidates in 22 wards have all got the same symbol. It is not normal, the opposition side added.
Asked about the matter, Barishal city AL president Golam Abbas Chowdhury told Prothom Alo that the allegation of creating pressure on the BNP candidates is the BNP’s ‘tactics’.
The BNP wants to take advantage of the situation creating controversies on many issues.
The AL-backed candidates would win in most of the wards, he said adding that they have taken vast preparations to win this poll. They have even been able to control the rival candidates, he claimed.
Barishal unit general secretary of Shushashoner Jonno Nagarik (Shujan) Rafiqul Alam said in some cases, ruling party-backed candidate may put pressure on opposition candidates.
If the administration remains neutral and the elecion is not rigged, some of the BNP-backed candidates could still be elected.
In the last Barishal civic polls on 15 June 2013, the BNP-backed candidates came out winners victory in 19 wards out of 30, AL-backed candidates secured wins in only 5 wards while Jatiya Party councillors won in two wards and Jamaat in one ward.
Non-party candidates won in the three other wards.
BNP’s Barishal district (south) unit’s president Ebaidul Haque is optimistic about win unless there is a massive rigging in voting.
"They will not be succeessful by threatening the party activists. Whatever happens, the BNP men will be in the field," he told Prothom Alo.
* This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Toriqul Islam