Dhaka, Dec 11 – With the allocation of election symbols, the candidates of the 11th parliamentary elections hit the campaign trail on Monday to woo voters, just 20 days before the national election.
But the ruling Awami League will formally kick off its campaign on Wednesday while BNP and its alliance still could not finalise the schedule for it though the informal campaign is going on in various parts of the country.
Most candidates of various political parties and independent ones started visiting houses and localities of their respective areas to seek votes with the removal of the campaign ban at the midday.
Many areas of the country, especially the Upazila headquarters and district towns, are resounded with rallies, loudspeakers, and supporters of the candidates on Monday with the start of the election campaign.
Political observers think the election is going to be competitive unlike the previous one as all the political parties are joining it under alliances, including two major ones – the Grand Alliance and Jatiya Oikyafront.
They suggested the candidates remain alert and exercise restraint to avoid any kind of violence over the electioneering so that the festive mood over the polls does not get affected.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, also the President of Awami League, will formally inaugurate her party’s election campaign from Tungipara on December 12.
Awami League sources said they are publishing leaflets highlighting their government‘s successes and its huge development activities carried out over the last 10 years to woo voters.
As a majority of the voters are young, the ruling party leaders said they will give various messages during their campaign to attract them.
Awami League joint general secretary Jahangir Kabir Nanak said the Prime Minister will go to Tungipara in Gopalganj on Wednesday morning (Dec 12) by road. She will start the formal election campaign after paying tributes to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s grave.
The Prime Minister will also address a rally at her own constituency while another rally at Kotalipara at noon, the AL leader said.
Sheikh Hasina will also travel different parts of the country as part of her hectic electioneering, Nanak added.
BNP and its alliance partners still did not formally announce when and where they will formally start the election campaign.
However, BNP and Gano Forum leaders said they have a plan to kick off the campaign from Sylhet.
“Dr Kamal Hossain and other senior leaders of Oikyafront are likely to launch the election campaign from Sylhet by offering fateha at the shrines of Hazrat Shahjalal (R) and Shah Paran (R) and at the grave of General MAG Osmani, but we still could not finalise the schedule,” Gano Forum executive president Subrata Chowdhury told UNB.
A BNP leader, wishing anonymity, said as their chairperson is in jail, Dr Kamal Hossain will spearhead their campaign and visit some districts along with party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir to seek votes for Oikyafront candidates.
However, a Gono Forum leader said Dr Kamal will not go to the constituencies where Jamaat candidates are contesting the election with BNP’s tickets. “After Sylhet, Sir will mainly conduct campaigns in seats in Dhaka due to his illness.”
Opposition alliance leaders said they will to try to get people’s sympathy by talking about the release of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia. “We’ll also tell voters about the misrule and repressive acts of the government apart from our plan to develop the country,” said Nagorik Oikya Convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna.
Besides, he said, they will try to appease young voters with many promises and making them aware of their voting rights.
At a press conference in the evening, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said he will start electioneering at his home constituency Thakurgaon-1 on Tuesday. “I’ll also go to Bogura for conducting the campaign.”
Earlier in the day, electoral symbols were allocated among candidates allowing them to begin electioneering.
A total of 272 candidates are going to contest the 11th parliamentary elections with ‘Boat’, Awami League’s electoral symbol, while 298 with BNP’s polls symbol ‘Sheaf of Paddy’.
Out of total 300 constituencies, Awami League has fielded its own candidates in 258 while shared the rest 42 with its partners from the Grand Alliance.
BNP has shared 59 seats with its partners from the Jatiya Oikyafront and the 20-party alliances and fielded its own candidates in 241 parliamentary seats.
As per the EC rules, no candidate can spend more than Tk 10 per voter during the electioneering, but the total election expenditures, including the party’s donation, of a candidate, cannot exceed the limit of Tk 25 lakh.
The Commission has already deployed 600 judicial magistrates and nearly 1,000 executive magistrates to punish the violation of the electoral code of conduct during the campaign.
As part of the election campaign, the candidates can hang only black-white posters of the maximum 60cmX45 cm size, but no poster can be pasted. Neither any colourful poster nor a banner-size one can be used.
In the case of banners, the biggest size is 3X1 metre as per the electoral code of conduct.
A total of 3,065 candidates — 2,567 from all the 39 registered political parties and 498 independent ones — filed nomination papers to contest the election from 300 constituencies in the country.
A total of 272 candidates are going to contest the 11th parliamentary elections with ‘Boat’, Awami League’s electoral symbol, while 298 with BNP’s polls symbol ‘Sheaf of Paddy’. – UNB