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Lacklustre campaigns come to a close

Ahmed Shawki and MH Maswood

Candidates other than those of the ruling Awami League were hardly seen electioneering in most of the constituencies with the deadline for campaigns for the 10th parliamentary polls expiring this morning.
Elections are scheduled to take place to 147 out of a total 300 constituencies as a record 153 candidates, mostly of the AL and its allies, have already been elected unopposed after the withdrawal of the nomination papers.
The Awami League fielded candidates for 246 constituencies, HM Ershad-led Jatiya Party for 85 constituencies, Anwar Hossain Manju-led Jatiya Party for 28 constituencies, Hasanul Haque Inu-led Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal for 24 constituencies, Workers Party of Bangladesh for 18 constituencies, newly floated Bangladesh Nationalist Front for 22 constituencies, National Awami Party for six constituencies, Bangladesh Tariqat Federation for three constituencies, Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish for two constituencies and Ganatantri Party, Gana Front and Bangladesh Islami Front have one candidate each.
Voters said there was no festivity and enthusiasm in the electioneering even on the last day for campaigns as electioneering was primarily limited to the ruling party candidates though 390 candidates were now vying for the rest 147 constituencies.
The electioneering for the 10th national election ends this morning without generating enthusiasm among the voters as they are more wary about Sunday’s election rather than being hopeful.
The candidates in different constituencies of Dhaka city and across the
country were seen wrapping up their electioneering on Thursday with lacklustre rallies.
The opposition alliance led by Bangladesh Nationalist Party has boycotted the election as it is being held under a partisan government, turning the polls into an one-sided affair.  The mood in constituencies across the country was no different where the voters are showing little interest in the election, reported our correspondents. 
‘There are candidates contesting for our constituency and they are carrying out campaigns, but unlike previous elections, it lacks the festive mood,’ said Ripon, a shopkeeper at Bakshi Bazar under Dhaka 7 constituency.
He said the constituency was expected to witness a closely contested affair between the AL candidate Mostafa Jalal Mahiuddin, the sitting lawmaker for the constituency, and his powerful rival, the rebel AL leader Hazi Mohammad Selim. ‘I am yet to make up my mind if I will vote or not. The election this time hardly brings hope,’ he said.
  Most of the local election campaign stations of the two candidates were seen empty by noon and there were no signs of campaigns other than posters of the candidates hung over the roads.
 Local leaders of Chhatra League, AL’s student wing, admitted that the party’s rebel candidate contesting the polls had created division among the activists.
‘The rebel candidate also has a long political track record and a large number of followers in the constituency. Now the activists are divided into two camps and also incidents of confrontation took place,’ BCL Alia Madrasa unit president Shafiq Ahmed, who is campaigning for Mostafa Jalal, told New Age on Thursday.
Vice-president of the ward 27 unit of AL, Golap Hossain, who is campaigning for Hazi Selim, said he hoped Selim would win the election by a big margin.
‘He [Selim] is not a rebel candidate as the party did not expel him. The sitting lawmaker has been chosen by the party and Selim has joined the race because the people want him,’ he said.
 In Dhaka 17 constituency, comprising Gulshan and Mohakhali area, the voters did not witness any campaigns by the candidates other than some posters.
SM Abul Kalam of Bangladesh Nationalist Front, Abdul Latif Mallik of Jatiya Party [Manju-led faction] and independent candidate MA Hannan Mridha are in the race for the constituency.
‘We have not seen any campaigns in last few days. I am not yet sure whether I am going to cast my vote,’ said Sharan Bikash Barua, a shopkeeper at Gulshan 1.
In Dhaka 15 constituency, comprising Mirpur and Pallabi area, candidates were going from door to door to seek vote, claimed activists of the candidates.    
Three candidates – AL-nominated Kamal Ahmed Majumder, Mohammad Saiful Islam of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal [Inu] and independent Ekhlas Uddin Molla – are vying for the constituency.   
‘We are carrying out campaigns continuously and have received good response from the voters,’ said AL’s ward 16 unit secretary Moyezuddin over phone when New Age visited his campaign station at Mirpur.
Sohel Ahmed, a voter of the constituency, told New Age that he would not vote in the January 5 election.
‘The Awami League has already won the majority seats before the election. There is no point in going to polling station to vote,’ he said. Voters in other parts of the country also witnessed lifeless campaigns by the candidates.
Four candidates will fight it out in Satkhira 2 constituency. Mir Moshtaq Ahmed Robi is contesting the polls on the AL ticket, Kazi Saidur Rahman of Bangladesh National Awami Party, Md Mohsin Hossain of Jatiya Party [Manju], and Saiful Karim Shabu is in the race as an independent candidate.
AL candidate Moshtaq Ahmed told New Age that the situation was not very encouraging in the area and he was not getting total support of the local party activists.
‘I am working very hard but receiving little response from the voters. The army is yet to be fully deployed in the area so the voters fear possible violence,’ he said.

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