Dhaka, Dec 15 (IANS) Bangladesh’s main opposition party has accused the government of cracking down on its workers to prevent them from campaigning for the general election set to be held end of the month.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which is contesting the December 30 election, after boycotting the one in 2014, alleged that in several parts of the country its members were not able to begin their campaign because of police crackdown and attacks by workers of the ruling Awami League party.
“I don’t know even who their (BNP) candidate is. All I see here is just boat (the election symbol of Awami League),” said a rickshaw-puller Abdur Rahman.
The BNP, in a statement cited by Efe news, claimed that its leaders and members were attacked in at least 20 of the country’s 64 districts.
Since the election schedule was announced on November 8, a total of 158 new cases were filed against BNP workers, while 2,546 were arrested, the report said.
Since the start of the campaign on December 10, 556 workers have been arrested.
Around 1,858 members of the Jamaat-e-Islami political party were also arrested between November 1 and December 13, non-profit Human Rights Watch said.
“There is no environment for free and fair election. The much-talked about level playing field, we don’t see any sign of it either,” BNP spokesperson Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said.
“This election is unique in many senses as first time all political parties are contesting the election,” said Ataur Rahman, president of Bangladesh Political Scientists Association.
The fact that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has had two terms in power and opposition leader Khaleda Zia is in prison, could affect outcomes, he said.