The by-election to Bogura-1 constituency will be held tomorrow amid coronavirus pandemic and worsening flood situation in the electoral area, forcing voters to lose interest in polling.
Bogura is the worst-hit district of the coronavirus in the northern region. According to the Bogura civil surgeon office, 3,763 people tested Covid-19 positive and 70 people have died of coronavirus in the district so far.
On the other hand, the flood situation in Bogura is worsening again from the last two days. More than 76,700 people are flood-affected in Sonatala and Saiakandi upazilas under Bogura-1 constituency, according to sources at the district relief and rehabilitation office.
As per the weather forecast, rain may occur in the electoral area and its adjoining places on voting day tomorrow.
The water of Jamuna River was 46 cm above the danger level at the Sariakandi Mathurapara point around 12noon today and the water level may increase in the next 72 hours, said Humayan Kabir, assistant engineer of Bogura Water Development Board.
Besides, there might be rainfall for the whole day tomorrow, he added.
Meanwhile, only 1,437 people have recovered from the coronavirus so far in the badly hit northern district, said Mostafizur Rahman Tuheen, deputy civil surgeon of Bogura.
"We will send medical teams to the polling stations and all necessary medicine supply except hand sanitiser and PPE," he said.
Mamunur Rashid (32), of Chakratinath Char of Hatsherpur union in Sariakandi upazila, said, "Since the pandemic started, we have no work in the char areas. Amid the worsening coronavirus situation, flooding struck us twice. No political leader come to us to see our awful condition. We are passing hard times now. Therefore, we can't even think of voting."
"The dwellers of our village are marooned by floodwater for the last 16 days. Most of the people in this village have no work. They cook food once and eat three times a day. We are not interested in voting this time amid flood and coronavirus," said Hosneara Begum (40), of Nawapara char in the same upazila.
Abdul Mannan (63), a flood victim who took shelter at Sujauler Para Guchchgram for the last 13 days, said, "We have no home now. We have no boat either. The polling station is situated far away from here. How we will go for the vote?"
"We value our own lives. If we are affected by coronavirus at polling centres, who will treat us?" said Firoza Bewa of Nawapara village.
11 polling centres in Sariakandi and three centres in Sonatala have been shifted as the floodwater submerged the polling centres, said the district election officer.
Contacted, Md Mahbub Alam Shah, senior district election officer of Bogura, said, "During the vote, we will follow the coronavirus health guidelines. The voters will stand in queues with three feet distance from each other. We are providing masks, hand sanitisers, sprays, and hand gloves to the election officials and law-enforcers."
"If the voters will not come, we are not responsible for that," he said.
Candidates in the election include Sahadara Mannan, wife of late MP Abdul Mannan, from AL, Moksedul Alam from Jatiya party, Nazrul Islam from Bangladesh Khelafat Andolon, Md Rani from Bangladesh Progotishil Gonatantric Dal, and independent candidate Md Eyeasir Rahmatullah Entaz.
BNP candidate AKM Ahsanul Toiyob Jakir already quit the election race as the Election Commission did not change the polling date as per the demand of his party.