Two major political alliances on Wednesday formally kicked off their electioneering to woo voters as Awami League wants to retain power for the third consecutive terms while BNP is desperate to return to power after 12 years through the battle of ballot on December 30.
As all the political parties are there in the election race, political analysts think the polls will be very competitive, and both the ruling and opposition camps must demonstrate their smartness through their words, actions and election campaigns to pave their way for assuming office with public support.
They said incumbency factor and apparent conflicts within the Grand Alliance and some rebel candidates are the major worries for Awami League.
On the other hand, they said, intraparty conflicts, lack of Khaleda Zia’s absence for electioneering, anger among the party rank and file over nomination of around 50 candidates of the party and alliance partners, cases against its leaders and activists and continued arrest of its followers are major concerns for BNP to fare well in the election.
A total of 272 candidates are contesting the election with ‘Boat’, the electoral symbol of Awami League, while 298 with BNP’s electoral symbol ‘Sheaf of Paddy’.
Out of total 300 constituencies, Awami League 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.
Though the ruling party kept aside 27 constituencies for its major Grand Alliance partner Jatiya Party, it fielded candidates in 158 more seats independently.
Awami League leaders said they will highlight huge development activities carried out by their government over the last 10 years as a card to persuade voters apart from projecting misdeeds of BNP.
Besides, they said, they will reach an understanding with their alliance partners, especially with Jatiya Party, soon to ensure single candidate of the Grand Alliance in most seats and convince their rebel candidates to stay aside.
As majority of the voters are young, the ruling party leaders said they will give various messages during their campaign to attract them.
BNP leaders said they will try to get people’s sympathy by talking about the release of its chairperson Khaleda Zia from jail alongside highlighting their various innovative ideas for welfare of the country’s people of all walks of life and generating employment.
They also said they will project the government’s various misdeeds, repressive and anti-democratic acts, extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearances and corruption to ‘convince voters to ‘reject’ Awami League.
BNP leaders said they will offer many attractive proposals for the welfare of young generation to appease them.
Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader said women and young voters will be the main weapons for Awami League to win the election.
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has established Digital Bangladesh for the advancement of young people while honoured women inserting a provision for mothers’ signatures alongside fathers for birth registration,” he said.
Quader also said they have neither any intra-party conflict nor any problem with their alliance partners.
The Awami League leader said people will elect their party for the continuation of the development pace.
BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said their party candidates cannot smoothly carry out election campaign across the country as the ruling party has established its supremacy everywhere across the country.
He said the ruling party is resorting to violence to intimidate people as it has no public support. “We’ll win the election if it is held 50 percent fair.”
Nagorik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna said their alliance candidates are seeking votes from people to have Khaleda Zia released from jail and free the country from repression, enforced dispense and restore people’s ownership of the country.
Besides, he said, they are trying to appease young voters with many promises and making them aware of their voting rights.
Contacted, Dhaka University ex-Vice Chancellor AAMS Arefin Siddiqui said getting public support is the main challenge for all the candidates of all parties to win the election.
“The candidates and their parties must show their smartness with good strategies, promises and action plans to attract voters,” he added.
Dr Arefin thinks both the ruling and opposition alliance will not suffer much for their rebel and additional candidates as an understanding will be created among them before the balloting.
Another DU ex-VC Prof Emajuddin Ahmed said BNP and Oikyafront should not quit the election under any circumstances. “They’ll have to go to people and tell them what situation they are facing. They’ll get people’s compassion as Khaleda Zia is in jail.”unb