With the by-polls to Chattogram-8 (Boalkhali-Chandgaon) set to be held tomorrow, BNP is expressing doubts whether the election will be free and fair.
Awami League, on the other hand, is confident of winning the polls by a huge margin.
Yesterday, the Election Commission (EC) organised a mock voting through electronic voting machines (EVM) in all 170 polling centres of the constituency.
While visiting polling centres in Chandgaon and Panchlaish areas, this correspondent saw a significant number of people gathering to cast votes.
“I have come here to learn how to cast vote through EVM,” said Jamal Uddin, a resident of Chandgaon who was waiting outside a polling centre at Chattogram Development Authority (CDA) School. “I don’t think using EVM will be complicated,” he said.
BNP candidate Abu Sufian also cast his mock vote there.
“Apparently, it seems easier to cast vote through EVM,” he said. “But what good is a machine if the person operating it is not being transparent. There is scope of manipulation here,” Sufian added.
He, however, admitted that people were enthusiastic to use EVMs.
“The ruling party activists have been threatening our supporters not to come to the polling centres on Monday,” he said, adding, “If people go to the polling centres defying all obstacles, I will win.”
Sufian, also convener of Chattogram south district unit of BNP, alleged that law enforcers were raiding homes of their probable polling agents in Boalkhali upazila.
Denying the allegations, Awami League candidate Moslem Uddin Ahmed said the BNP candidate has made it “a habit” to complain against AL activists.
“Actually, he has realised that people will not vote for him. That’s why he is spreading propaganda against us, police and the EC to make the polls controversial,” he said.
Moslem, president of Chattogram south district unit of AL, expected that people in droves will go to the polling centres on the polls day to cast their votes without any fear or intimidation.
“I expect to win by a big margin as I have received massive support from voters during my campaign,” he said.
Contacted, Mohammad Hasanuzzaman, regional election officer in Chattogram and returning officer (RO) of the by-polls, said the EC is all set to hold the polls on Monday.
“A control room has been set up in the gymnasium of MA Aziz Stadium. Ballot papers and all electoral items will be sent to the polling centres today, he said. “Eighteen members of law enforcement agencies will be deployed at each centre,” said the official.
Besides, 14 mobile teams comprising of police, Ansar and Armed Police Battalion; six striking forces; six patrol teams of Rapid Action Battalion and five platoons of Border Guard Bangladesh will be deployed to maintain law and order, said the RO.
Asked about the number of risky or important polling centres, he said all 170 polling centres are important.
Apart from AL and BNP candidates, four candidates from Bangladesh Nationalist Front, Islamic Front Bangladesh, National Awami Party and an independent candidate are vying in the polls.
A total of 4,75,988 voters are expected to exercise their franchise through EVMs, said Election Commission officials.
The constituency fell vacant due to death of lawmaker Moin Uddin Khan Badal on November 7. Badal, also executive president of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, was elected lawmaker with the “boat” (Awami League) symbol from the constituency in three consecutive polls, between 2008 and 2018.