Your election is always shadowed by the fear, apprehensions and controversy of the ‘godfather’, but you always managed to boldly come through. What about this time?
In Sha Allah, I will boldly make it this time too. Actually, people’s power is an important factor. If the people are by your side, no obstacle is an obstacle. This can be overcome. No matter how strongly evil forces may arise, the truth will always defeat them, no matter when.
You said you were fed up with hearing Shameem Osman’s name constantly. How relevant is he in the election, actually?
I do not know how relevant he is in the election, actually. It is you, the media, who give him the limelight. The election was going well in the beginning. Then afterwards we saw that the media is more interested in this issue.
But you always refer to him as the ‘godfather’.
I might use the term ‘godfather’, but it is the media who drag him, the member of parliament, into the election.
That maybe because it was your standing up against him, standing up against the reign of terror, that brought you success. Perhaps that is why his context arises.
Maybe so. In 2011 I vehemently protested. That election was me against him. Maybe the media wants to highlight that again.
Now that Shameem Osman is supporting you, are his followers working in your favour?
I do not know who is working or not. I do not have the time. The central leadership was there. They have seen all this. I have appealed to everyone. I have appealed to those who are truly Sheikh Hasina’s people, followers of Bangabandhu’s ideals, to vote for me.
You said you were getting a lot of public support in your campaign. But aren’t you getting any complaints from the voters too?
In most places there were no complaints, there were requests. They asked me to do various things when elected. There were a few complaints about water. I have taken up WASA newly. There have been problems with WASA for long. They have asked me to fix WASA once I pass in the election. Narayanganj also has a gas problem, though this is not in my jurisdiction.
Taimur Khandakar Alam has accused you of increasing holding tax and voters have this complaint too.
I have not faced this issue. The public is not concerned about this. There have been certain quarters that raise the issue. I said, bring the holding tax paper and I will see how far it has been increased. Over the past one or one and a half years we haven’t been able to collect any taxes since corona and the public haven’t been paying. Another thing is that the water bill has been included. Perhaps people were confused by that.
You have been here for 18 years. We often hear about the city corporation syndicate. What is this? Who runs it?
I don’t know why this is repeatedly mentioned. This allegation has been launched at me since 2011. Even in 2016. Now Taimur ‘kaka’ is using this allegation too. I firmly say that there is no scope of forming any syndicate. In 2011 there was the scope, but I didn’t create any syndicate. Now the question simply does not arise. Now everything is done through e-tender. Also, I have written to the ministry against the criteria set to select contractors. These criteria allow only big contractors to get the big contracts. The smaller contractors don’t stand a chance. I think this must be changed so medium contractors can get a chance for big contracts too. I have no control over this.
You and Taimur Alam have a ‘niece and uncle’ relationship. If defeated, how will this affect the relationship?
I will win, In Sha Allah. My relationship with uncle will remain intact and I will include him in the work. There will be no problem here.
Will the people continue to vote for you?
I have worked for the people, for their welfare. I have built up a close relationship with the people. My relationship with the people of this city is not one of give-and-take. I prioritise on what they require, what they want, what the city needs.
You have been saying that your party’s ‘boat’ symbol will win. What if the boat sinks?
The boat will not sink. The people of this city will keep the boat afloat, In Sha Allah. Have you seen in which direction the wind is blowing? The wind is blowing in the boat’s sails.
How neutral has the administration’s role been?
I have always asked the administration to play a neutral role. With a few exceptions and errors here and there, the administration till now has been neutral. I do not want any favour. I have not asked the administration to favour me. I have asked them to remain neutral and ensure an environment conducive to the elections, so that the elections are normal and good. I want the elections to be peaceful. Taimur ‘kaka’ wants that too.
Taimur Alam has complained that the presence of outsiders has increased in Narayanganj. Every night police vehicles park outside the homes of his leaders and workers, creating alarm.
That is an absolutely false allegation. Where will outsiders come from, tell me? My family has been in Narayanganj for generations. It is Taimur ‘kaka’ who is from Rupganj. It is people from Rupganj who campaign for him. So if there are outsiders, they are from Rupganj. I do not have anyone from outside. The maternal side of my family is from here, the paternal side of my family is from here. Kaka’s people come from Rupganj, spend the day campaigning and put up at various hotels at night.
Taimur Alam has brought about allegations against Jahangir Kabir Nanak and a number of other central leaders of Awami League, particularly about Nanak’s statement of setting up a ‘trap’.
They are central leaders. They will make political statements. Their statements are their business. I didn’t make any such insinuations. I am competing with him in the election field. He had done politics at a national level too. Political statements can be a bit abrasive.
Do you apprehend any chaos or disorder in the elections?
To any extent, yes. There are some problems involving the councillors. There are tensions among the various sides. There are such problems in 10 or 12 wards, or at least 8 for sure. I couldn’t go to ward no. 19 yesterday (Friday) because the friction between supporters of two councilor candidates. If such things happen on the day of the election, my votes will be affected because of them.
If you win, what will be your first task?
If I am elected, my first task will be the Kadam Rasulpur bridge. We have a lot of work to do and the bridge is a priority. It is almost complete.
Then comes waste management. PDB has signed a deal with a company of China regarding waste management. Waste will be used to produce power. The ministry of power is in charge of this. We have given the space and have signed an MOU. We will provide 6 to 7 tonnes of garbage every day. We will try to get this completed as soon as possible.
We have six mega projects. We want to complete these as soon as possible and have these inaugurated by the honourable prime minister.