Bangladesh election is drawing close. But the opposition is unsettled by the goings-on preceding the elections. It is increasingly difficult for the opposition to hold campaign meetings, rallies or even display its campaign banners.
Abdul Moyeen Khan, an opposition candidate, lamented about the inability to hold public meetings in his constituency, which was just about 50 km away from the country’s capital of Dhaka. Khan, a nuclear physicist, rues over wasted funds expended printing campaign fliers lying waste at the corners of his house because his supporters are fearful about putting them in public places. The threats range from intimidation, violent attacks, arrests, to shootings.
Interestingly, posters and fliers of that of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League enjoyed unhindered display in every area, but the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) ̶ the biggest opposition party ̶ is strangulated and retrained from freely displaying their campaign materials in public places. Some of the opposition leaders from BNP, including Khaleda Zia, have also been jailed unjustifiably.
Opposition groups are doubtful that Sheikh Hasina will let a free, fair, and credible Bangladesh election. There is no political trust in the atmosphere. Even the coming together and banding of BPN with smaller parties seems insignificantly helpful.
Bangladesh is going to be one of the biggest elections to happen anywhere in the world this year, with over 100 million registered voters and 300 parliament seats that are being contested. But the uneasy cry of the opposition is growing louder by the day, claiming a ‘no level ground’ contest. This is becoming frustrating as Friday draws near, when every campaign is supposed to end.
Khan lamented: “I am not even allowed to campaign, and they are threatening voters to stay away.” Many of his party workers have been intimidated or assaulted, with some ending up in hospitals.
Expectedly, Hasina’s Awami League gunning for a third straight term, has denied all the allegations of the opposition, pointing fingers back at the opposition, especially for the recent pre-election chaos.
Reuters was recently shown some photographs by HT Imam, the Awami League leader, claiming that the chaos including burning of vehicles, vandalizing, and other destructions were caused by opposition ‘thugs’. To further justify the sincerity of Hasina for the forthcoming election, Imam said the President had earlier asked the Election Commission for the use of ‘see-through’ election boxes, while telling the police to monitor use of money and violence by political parties.