Voting to 29 municipalities began in the fifth phase of municipal elections on Sunday morning. Candidates contesting against ‘boat’, the electoral symbol of ruling Bangladesh Awami League, were complaining of facing threats and law suits and detention since the very first day of electioneering. There were clashes until the last day of campaigning that created worries among the voters about fair polls.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s mayoral candidate in Matlab municipality of Chandpur Enamul Haque alias Badal on Monday announced to boycott polls, alleging hindrances in electioneering, and threats and attacks by the ruling party men. Several other candidates contesting in the polls with ‘sheaf of paddy’, electoral symbol of de facto opposition BNP, brought allegations of facing threats and hindrances in campaigning in media conferences.
Amid all these allegations, the voting will continue from 8:00am to 4:00pm where Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) will be used.
Different media ran reports on clashes during the electioneering. Clashes were reported from Bhola municipality even after the legal period for campaigning was over. At least four people were injured as supporters of two councilor candidates locked into chase and counter-chase in Westernpara of ward no. 6 of the municipality on Saturday. They locked into clash on Friday night as well, leaving 15 injured. Election office, shops and rickshaws were vandalised that time.
Allegations of vandalising 25 homes in ward no. 9 of the municipality have been brought. Local people said the supporters of two councilor candidates locked into the clash. Twelve voters from Charjangla, Vocational Road and PTI areas told Prothom Alo that all of the clashing sides are supporters of the Awami League. The voters also said they were threatened not to go to the polling centres.
Bhola sadar police station officer-in-charge Enayet Hossain acknowledged about the incidents of clashes, chase and counter-chase, exploding crude bombs and opening fires. He said the situation is peaceful now. Sufficient law enforcement members and magistrate are patrolling in the area.
The campaigning offices of Awami League were vandalised and set on fire in Durgapur municipality, Rajshahi on Friday night. Ward unit AL president Amjad Ali filed a lawsuit against 25-30 BNP men with Durgapur police station in this regard.
Vice-president of Bhola unit of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal, Mahabubur Rahman said the case has been filed to harass the BNP men. This is unbelievable that BNP men would vandalise AL’s offices, especially in the current situation of the country. Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal, student wing of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
All 48 polling centres in Brahmanbaria municipality are being considered as risky. AL mayoral candidate Nayar Kabir suspected 16 polling centres would be occupied.
On behalf of the party candidate, district AL general secretary Al Mamun Sarkar, in a press conference at Brahmanbaria press club on Saturday, said this.
He said according to the decisions taken by the ward councilors, 10 independent volunteers would be employed outside of each polling centres. They will help the law enforcement agencies if any outsider tries to break discipline.