Gazipur city polls: RMG workers, Hefajat, JP to influence polls

Taib Ahmed and Mohammad Ali Zheelon . Gazipur

Garment workers’ issues, local problems, regionalism, the stance of Jatiya Party and the Hefajat-e-Islam factor and outcome of the four city polls could influence the Gazipur civic polls, according to the voters.
As far as the competence of the two heavyweight mayoral candidates –Ajmat Ullah Khan and MA Mannan – are concerned, the voters say allegations of corruption were levelled at both the candidates in the past though both had done some development work in the area.
Though a total of seven candidates are in the race for mayor, ruling Awami League-backed candidate and former Tongi municipality mayor Ajmat Ullah Khan and Bangladesh Nationalist Party-supported candidate and former state minister MA Mannan have emerged as frontrunners in the polls slated for July 6.
The five other candidates have hardly been seen electioneering while AL’s dissident candidate Jahangir Alam has been campaigning for Ajmat since his quitting the race.
Many voters also believe that Jahangir Alam’s was forced to pull out of the race by the AL, a sign of the ruling party’s desperation to win the polls after its shock defeat in the recently-held four city corporation elections.
Though the Jatiya Party central committee did not yet decide its stance regarding the Gazipur polls, some local leaders of JP said they had started working in favour of the BNP-backed candidate.
‘The district unit of the party in line with the opinions of the most of the local leaders and activists has decided to back the 18-party-supported candidate in the polls after the central committee of the party extended support to none,’ said district Jatiya Party general secretary Nurul Islam.
However, a section of Jatiya Party activists under the leadership of its Gazipur city unit president Monwar Hossain supported the 14-party alliance-backed candidate for which he was reportedly declared persona non grata in the local unit of JP.
Besides, Hefajat-e-Islam remains a crucial factor in the polls. Though a section of Hefajat leaders were seen campaigning for Ajmat Ullah a couple of days back, the district Hefajat issued a press statement on Thursday claiming that the people campaigning for Ajmat in the name of the organisation did not belong to it.
On Saturday, Hefajat men were seen electioneering for Mannan.
Professor Ayes Uddin, founding president of Gazipur Sachetan Nagarik Committee, said desperate electioneering by central leaders of the ruling and opposition camps had brought the national issues to the fore, though voters wanted the would-be mayor to take initiatives to resolve the local issues.
‘The central leaders [of AL and BNP] during electioneering in Gazipur are talking about national issues while the voters are concerned over local problems,’ he added.
He said the garment workers who made up about one-third of the total voters in Gazipur city would play a major role in the polling.
A worker of Sparrow Garment Factory, Sultana, said she would vote for those candidates who would support their cause and work for improving working environment in garment factories.
Abdullah Al Milon, a senior journalist of a local newspaper, said Tongi region was considered Ajmat’s vote bank while voters of Gazipur region were unlikely to make a man from Tongi the mayor as both a lawmaker and upazila chairman had already been elected from Tongi.

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