Port city politics heats up as the Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) polls slated for 27 January draw closer.
Both the Awami League (AL) and BNP picked mayor candidates are passing a busy time in last moment electioneering as they are going to the doorsteps of the voters seeking votes.
The AL mayoral candidate Rezaul Karim Chowdhury is campaigning in the city with the huge presence of his supporters, while attacks and police cases have apparently cornered the BNP candidate Shahadat Hossain's electioneering.
After the poll schedule announcement, CCC election campaigns of AL and BNP began on 8 January. During the last 14 days of the electioneering, the BNP mayoral candidate and his supporters were attacked seven times allegedly by his contestant.
On 17 January, Shahadat Hossain's car was vandalised in the Double Mooring area. Besides, the BNP mayoral candidate complained about vandalizing his campaign loud-speakers, threatening party men and supporters, and tearing up campaign posters in different areas.
Lastly on 20 January, the BNP party office at Kazir Dewri was attacked by miscreants.
BNP Standing Committee Member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury claimed at a press conference Thursday said Shahadat Hossain and Chattogram BNP Senior President Abu Sufian's cars were vandalised in the party office attack.
BNP candidate Shahadat lodged eight written complaints with the Election Commission (EC) from 11 to 20 January. However, only one of those complaints has been settled so far. Returning Officer Mohammad Hasanuzzaman said they were investigating the remaining complaints.
"We are taking the complaints of all the candidates seriously," he said, adding police have been instructed to provide security for the BNP candidate's election campaigns.
According to the BNP's complaint to the EC, vehicles were vandalised and campaign posters were torn down on 11 January in the city's East Bakalia. On 15 January, Shahadat was obstructed and threatened while conducting campaigns in Bakalia.
On 16 January, local Awami League men attacked BNP activists and supporters in Rampura. At this time 8-10 blank rounds were fired. On the same day, BNP candidate's election campaigns in South Bakalia were barred.
On 17 January, Shahadat's car was vandalised on his way back after a rally at Rupsha Bakery area under Double Mooring Police Station. Four activists were injured when another vehicle of his convoy was attacked.
Awami League-backed councillor Abdus Sabur Liton threatened the BNP candidates and his supporters in Rampura on 18 January. On the same day, the BNP candidate's campaign in Panchlaish came under attack which left 10-12 BNP leaders and activists injured.
Apart from obstruction and threat, BNP says multiple cases are being lodged against the party activists. In the last three days, four cases have been filed against nearly 200 BNP leaders and activists with four police stations in Chattogram.
Since 19 January, BNP candidate Shahadat has been electioneering under police protection. On 19 January, a huge number of police personnel were present at his election campaigns.
However, the BNP candidate said those are nothing but "eyewash". "They are guarding the campaigns on the day and harassing the leaders and activists at night," he added.
At the press conference, BNP Standing Committee Member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury alleged, "Police are raiding BNP our residences and telling us to leave the area. They even told the councillor candidates to leave."
"They are supposed to ensure safety. Instead of that, they are obstructing the electioneering," Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury added.
Meanwhile, the campaigns of AL candidate Rezaul Karim Chowdhury were on in full swing.
With motorcades, he has been campaigning in different areas of the port city. There had been a remarkable presence of ruling party leaders and activists in those campaigns.
However, there are minor clashes between ward level ruling party men and supporters of AL rebel councillors over supremacy. On 16 January, there were chase and counter chase in Lalkhan Bazar while AL mayor candidate Rezaul Karim Chowdhury went there for campaigning.
Besides, one person was killed in a clash between two councillor candidates in Pathantuli on 14 January.
Over BNP's complaints and allegations, AL candidate Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said BNP factions lock into clashes on their own to shift the blame on Awami League.
"Their complaints are countless. Basically, they want to make the polls questionable since they know their defeat is certain. People will respond to all their allegations by ballots in the 27 January elections," he added.
Chattogram Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Mominur Rahman told The Business Standard that the district administration is not responsible for maintaining law and order centring the elections.
"However, 22 mobile courts are being conducted in the city from 2pm to 8pm every day to check code of conduct violations," he noted.