Sarker Shahnoor Islam Rony, an independent candidate in the Gazipur City Corporation election, has expressed his satisfaction with the voting atmosphere in the morning but expressed doubts about what will happen later, citing his experiences in previous elections.
Rony, the son of a BNP family, said he will boycott the election if it becomes a repeat of the 2018 city polls.
Voting in the city corporation began via electronic voting machines at 8 am on Thursday. Rony, who used the elephant symbol, cast his ballot at Shaheed Ahsan Ullah Master General Hospital Centre in Tongi.
After casting his ballot, the independent candidate alleged that his agents faced obstructions at several polling centres.
“The agents of the ruling Awami League obstructed my agents from entering the centres. I visited the centres to solve the issue afterwards,” Rony said.
“The election environment inside the centres is pretty good but I found crowds of ruling party activists outside.”
Rony said he will speak to the media about the overall election situation after visiting some other centres later on Thursday.
“Many of my agents are leaving centres due to fear as they have been intimidated over the last few days. Those who are brave enough are staying inside.”
The BNP is not contesting the poll formally but Rony has ties to the party as his father is a former BNP member. Rony’s uncle Hasanuddin Sarkar contested the mayoral election in 2018 as a BNP nominee and lost to Zahangir Alam of the Awami League.
“I will observe the situation until the end of the election. I have repeatedly said that the voting environment was fair until 11 am in 2018 but the situation changed afterwards. If I find a similar situation this year, I will boycott the election. If everything goes well until 5 pm, I will accept the outcome, whatever it is.”
In a question about EVMs, Rony said, “The use of EVMs is fine. I found no inconsistency until now. But I don’t know if there are any internal issues.”
Claiming that BNP activists are casting votes for him ‘silently’, Rony said, “Grassroots BNP supporters are casting their votes silently to avoid the risk of being arrested as several raids have been conducted against them in Gazipur over the last few days.”
“Arrests and searches of the houses of BNP supporters who believe in nationalism are underway. That’s why, naturally ,they are a bit muted.”
Altogether the election has five contestants nominated by political parties and three independent contestants. Azmat Ullah Khan, the Awami League candidate, is considered the key contestant. Zayeda Khatun, the mother of expelled city mayor Zahangir Alam, is also contesting as an independent candidate. Analysts expect a three-way battle in the poll.
“A silent revolution will happen if a fair election is held. I am 100 per cent hopeful of winning the poll,” Rony said.