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Campaigns revolve round national issues

Taib Ahmed

Leaders of the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party contesting the upazila elections beginning in phases on Wednesday are in for tough competition, replacing local issues with national issues in the fray.
With only two days left for the elections to 98 upazila councils in the first phase, campaigns ending today reached its peak with every corner of of upazilas being flooded with posters, festoons and banners.
Reports from outlying districts said that the two major political parties had sent their lawmakers and central leaders to grass roots for campaigns in favour of candidates they extended support to.
Although the candidates were making lofty development promises in localities, campaigns by lawmakers
and central leaders, who were talking mainly about national issues during electioneering, had given local government polls a flavour of national elections.
BNP leaders and the candidates they were working for were trying to win voters by highlighting the AL-led government’s failures and misdeeds such as repression and killing of opposition activists and by promising good governance and better development if they were elected.
AL leaders and the candidates they were working for were seeking votes by highlighting successes of the AL-led government and by promising development saying that they would be able to carry out development work as they are in power.
In some areas, the alliances led by the Awami League and the BNP have set up election panels
composed of candidates for the chairman, vice-chairman and vice-chairwoman and were going around together seeking votes for the panel.
After the national elections of January 5 that the BNP-led alliance boycotted, both the rival political camps have taken up the local government elections seriously.
The BNP, however, feared that people’s franchise in the upazila elections could be snatched as it alleged that the administration and the law enforcement agencies had been directed to work of candidates the ruling Awami League supported. The Election Commission, however, brushed aside such allegations and asked the BNP to lodge specific complaints.
The commission deployed Border Guard Bangladesh in election areas on Sunday and will deploy army personnel today to keep law and order in the run up to, during and after the elections.
Four hundred and thirty-two candidates for the position of chairman, 513 for vice-chairmen and 329 for vice-chairwoman are contesting the elections to 98 the upazila councils.
The New Age correspondent in Comilla reported that leaders of both the BNP and the Awami League contesting the elections to three upazila councils in the district were seeking votes as panels.
The correspondent in Satkhira reported that national issues dominated the hectic campaigns, overshadowing local issues, giving the elections a national look.
Lawmakers and central leaders of the both the parties were taking part in the poll campaigns and were trying to win voters making talking about national issues.
The correspondent in Jessore reported that the main fight would be between leaders of the Awami League and the BNP contesting the elections.
Awami League leaders contesting the elections were projecting positives activities of the prime minister and war crimes trial issues and in some cases the Malopara issue while BNP leaders contesting the elections were focusing on price increase, crimes, fivefold increase in fuel prices and sixfold increase in power price and some local issues. 
BNP campaigners were also telling voters that if the BNP did not win this time, the governments would be more cruel to ordinary people.
The correspondent in Jhenaidah reported that candidates the two major parties supported were campaigning in a way that upazila elections were a question of their existence in the areas.
The correspondent in Khulna reported that candidates in the two upazilas
in the district were reaching out voters and making lofty promises for development.
Candidates were promising top priority to local problems such as academic facilities, healthcare services, income generation and rehabilitation projects.
The corresponded in Barisal reported that candidates and voters both had given priority to national issues in the local elections as the local government institutions are not autonomous.
The correspondent in Magura reported that people were expecting a tough fight between candidates from both the camps.
Voters said that they would elect honest and competent candidates in the local government polls apart from considering national issues.

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