Vol. 5 Num 9 Sat. June 05, 2004  
Front Page

Munshiganj-1 polls tomorrow
Weary voters ready for third time

Latif Miah thinks the people of Bikrampur, specially those of Srinagar and Sirajdikhan upazilas, have become wearied of voting as this is the third time since the 2001 they are going to elect their representative in parliament.

"The election doesn't change our fate. You can't show even a single significant development made in our area during the last 10 years. Naturally, people have lost their interest in polls," said the man who runs a small shop on Bhagyakul Road in Srinagar.

Tomorrow's election to this seat will be the second one during the tenure of the present government. In the 2001 parliamentary elections, Badruddoza Chowdhury had won from Munshiganj-1. But, as he became the president, the seat fell vacant and his son Mahi B Chowdhury, with BNP nomination, won in the first by-election here.

The whole country now is eagerly awaiting the outcome of the second by-election in Munshiganj-1 and the first in Dhaka-10, the two parliamentary constituencies that fell vacant after Mahi and Major (Retd) Abdul Mannan resigned from the ruling alliance leader, BNP, on March 10. Both of them are competing in the by-polls from a new platform, the Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh (BDB), floated by former president B Chowdhury.

The High Court however has stayed the election in Dhaka-10 until June 12 following a petition by Mannan on being refused his desired poll symbol 'kula'.

The four candidates who submitted nomination papers for the Munshiganj-1 by-poll are Mahi from the BDB contesting with 'kula' symbol, Momin Ali from the BNP and two independent candidates. But, it is obvious to everyone that the real contest is between the BNP and the BDB candidates.

"I think both the candidates have enough support. But, if people can vote without threat and pressure, Mahi has more chance to win," said M Asgar Ali, 75, a vegetable trader. "The image and popularity of B Chowdhury among the masses is the key asset of Mahi. On the other hand, Momin has money and ruling party's power on his side," he noted.

"You have to remember that Momin is a wealthy man and the candidate of the ruling party. Sometimes, money talks more prominently," said a student of Srinagar College requesting anonymity. "Threats have frightened Mahi's supporters. Some ruling party goons even attacked them," he added.

Not to speak of the locals, B Chowdhury also is popular with the outsiders residing here.

Mohammed Sahidul, a rickshaw-puller who has migrated to Srinagar from Kurigram, vows his support to Mahi as the son of the former president. "I have positive feelings for Mahi," he said when asked whom he wanted to vote.

Some others pointed out that the vote bank of Awami League would go for the BDB and the factional conflicts in the local BNP is another plus point for Mahi.

"After B Chowdhury and Mahi left BNP, many local BNP leaders were vying with each other for nomination for this seat. So, Momin's nomination didn't make the rest of the competitors happy," said a trader of Shologhor market requesting anonymity.

The total number of voters in Munshiganj-1 is 234,581. The authorities have designated all the 59 election centres in this constituency as vulnerable and so, 500 military and paramilitary troops are deployed in the two upazilas to maintain peace, Upazila Nirbahi Officer Ehsanul Parvez told some newspersons.

Army men, top, guard one of their makeshift camps established at Government Srinagar College in Munshiganj yesterday as part of security measures to ensure fair parliamentary by-elections; and the supporters of the four-party alliance candidate, bottom left, and his Bikalpa Dhara rival, bottom right, campaign ahead of the polls. PHOTO: STAR