In the upcoming elections to the five city corporations, there are no signs of the festive environment in which elections are generally held in in our country.
Gazipur city polls will be held on 25 May. Next the polls are supposed to be held in Khulna and Barishal on 12 June and in Rajshahi and Sylhet on 21 June. BNP has already declared its boycott of the city polls.
Many had assumed, though, that two-time mayor, Ariful Haque Choudhury, may be a candidate in Sylhet. However, as he decided not to contest finally, all five city polls have turned one-sided.
Despite announcing the next national elections to be held with ballots, why the Election Commission has decided on holding the city polls with Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) is not comprehensible.
While excitement over the polls hasn’t arisen yet in the other four cities, election campaign in Gazipur is already in the final stage.
Despite there being eight mayoral candidates in Gazipur, it is being assumed the actual contest will be held between Awami League-nominated candidate Azamat Ullah and former mayor Jahangir Alam’s mother Zayeda Khatun.
The other candidates aren’t very enthusiastic.
Rather than the election campaign, ruling party’s internal conflict has turned into the main focus in Barishal.
There have been several fights between the followers of incumbent mayor Sadiq Abdullah and the followers of new mayoral candidate Abul Khair Abdullah.
The man Awami League has given nomination in Sylhet has been an expatriate for a long time. Many local Awami League leaders and activists consider him an outsider.
In Gazipur, Awami League has expelled former mayor Jahangir Alam for taking a stance against the party-backed candidate. Failing to become a candidate himself, Jahangir Alam is campaigning on behalf of his mother Zayeda Khatun, an independent candidate.
The responsibility of maintaining a fair environment for election relies on the Election Commission.
But there are doubts about how much they are fulfilling that responsibility.
There have bee violations of the code of conduct in these politically uncontested elections.
Towards the beginning of the official election campaign in Gazipur, they had summoned the Awami League-nominated candidate once and were ‘content’ with just hearing his statement.
Meanwhile there have been two attacks on independent candidate Zayeda Khatun’s public gatherings, yet the commission failed to take any action in this regard.
One of the attacks happened in Tongi’s Purbo Gopalpur area on Thursday evening while the other occurred in Tongi’s Purbo Boubazar area on Saturday afternoon.
Gazipur’s former mayor Jahangir Alam and his mother independent candidate Zayeda Khatun have said that no matter how many attacks are there, they will fight till the end.
Despite the attackers chanting slogans in favour of the candidate, sporting the boat symbol while vandalising Zayeda Khatun's car, the police cannot locate them.
They however had searched the houses of BNP leaders and activists as soon as the rumour of Ariful Haque Choudhury’s possible participation in the election started going around in Sylhet about a month ago.
It’s clear that the members of the law enforcement organisations couldn’t snap out of the party loyalty even in these uncontested elections.
While a mayoral candidate’s public gatherings are obstructed and she’s attacked several times, no action being taken by the law enforcement agencies or the Election Commission is extremely unfortunate. What does this indifference of them indicate?
If an election candidate repeatedly falls victim to attacks during campaigning, then how can the EC or the administration hold a fair election?
Since the main opposition has withdrawn, there’s less enthusiasm among the voters surrounding the elections. On top of that, if attacks and vandalism is repeated like this, they’ll turn away from the polling centres completely.