For many in Narayanganj, the previous election was a bitter one. However, this year’s campaign has largely been festive, with only a few tense incidents. All voters want is an atmosphere where they can cast their own ballots in peace on the day of the polling.
“I hope that doesn’t happen this time,” Monsur, who hails from Chandpur, said.
Josna Begum, a housewife from Mission Para area, cast her ballot in 2018 and recounted her unpleasant experience.
“The last time I went to vote at the [Morgan School Centre] with my husband. They didn’t even allow us in. The Ansar members said voting was closed and that everyone was off to lunch. The police then sent us away,” she said.
“This time the [campaigners] came to our homes and told me – ‘Aunty, you must come to vote. We’ll be there in case you face any difficulties’. I replied, ‘Your uncle is sick, but I will still go’.”
A teacher of Amlapara’s Ideal School had been on duty in the previous polls.
Declining to be named for this story for her own safety, she said: “Everyone saw how things went in the last polls. It led to many grievances and distrust among the people towards the ruling Awami League.
“[Salina Hayat] Ivy is popular in the city. I doubt you can find another mayor who has been in power for so long, yet remains so popular in any municipality. But the issue is, she represents the boat symbol.”
Her brother, a bank employee who also asked not to be named, will be on duty this time around.
He thinks the voting will be fair this time. “Everyone was able to campaign without any mishaps,” he said.
When asked which candidate he thought has the edge, Monsur spoke of the city corporation’s water trucks.
“There have been some visible changes during Ivy’s term as mayor,” he said.
Last year, when the people were in a state of panic due to the pandemic, these trucks were used to spread disinfectants on the streets. These are now sprinkling water in the dry, dusty season.
“It is a relief for the people. Illegal occupants have been removed from some canals. The environment at [Russell Park] has changed and now people can go spend time there with their families.
“Taimur [Alam Khandaker] is also well known. His brother [Maksudul Alam Khandaker] Khorshed is very famous among the people.”
Hatem Ali, a small business owner, complained about the family of a local MP in a veiled reference to AKM Shamim Osman.