Traffic gridlocks cause public suffering
The BNP-backed Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) mayoral candidate Tabith Awal, flanked by several hundreds of party leaders, activists and supporters, campaigned for eight hours straight.
His electioneering, covering wards 24, 25 and 26, started from Kolmilota Super Market of Tejkunipara at 11am and ended at Nakhalpara after covering Karwan Bazar, Mohakhali bus terminal and adjoining areas of Dhaka till 7pm.
Interestingly, he was hardly seen exchanging greetings with people, including pedestrians, whose votes he needs at the January 30 DNCC election.
He mostly waved in the direction of residential buildings, without bothering to appear at any door to ask for votes.
The BNP leader was surrounded by so many party leaders and activists that it would have been practically impossible for him to go from door to door asking for votes.
While following the campaign trail for nearly three and a half hours from the beginning, this correspondent found that Tabith was rarely talking to passersby.
However, he and his fellow campaigners were distributing leaflets and plastic-made “sheaf of paddy,” the symbol assigned to him as the BNP candidate.
Surprisingly, a number of schoolchildren wearing their uniforms were seen joining the campaign.
At Karwan Bazar area, the candidate told reporters that he would focus on a congenial environment of business there.
Tabith said that once elected he would build a multi-level parking lot at the Tejgaon truck stand, and demolish the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) building.
Earlier in the day, before going out on the campaign, he offered ziarat (prayers) at the grave of the BNP’s founder, late president Ziaur Rahman in the presence of BNP leader Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain.
A visit to Tejkunipara in the Tejgaon area through narrow paths resulted in traffic chaos. Children returning from school with their mothers, passersby, rickshaws, auto-rickshaws and other vehicles were stuck on the road for a long time due to the electioneering.
Shwagota Ghosh, mother of a schoolgirl, said: “This is very bad. This should not happen during school hours.”
About the public suffering caused by his campaign, Tabith said, "The roads were not wide enough to commute in the first place, causing inconvenience to the public, and despite repeated calls for broader roads, no action had been taken."
Fair polls doubted
Expressing his concern about a free and fair DNCC election, Tabith said: “We fear that this election will not be a fair one since the Election Commission is taking measures to hold it in an unfair manner.”
The EC is taking no visible initiatives, failing to ensure voters that there will be a fair election, and whether they can cast their votes, he alleged.
He said BNP activists had been threatened, and false cases had been filed against them.
In many areas, the campaigns by BNP leaders and activists were attacked, Tabith stated.
“Yet, we have to be prepared mentally at this early stage so that nobody votes before the election day,” he said, stating that the BNP’s campaign had drawn a huge public response.