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By-polls pose threat of COVID- 19 infections in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has already been occupied by COVID-19, which has claimed over a thousand lives. In this terrible situation, the World Health Organization has threatened the countries like Bangladesh to follow the rule of physical distancing, or to face tougher situations. In such a time, the country throws people in risk by arranging by- polls for Jashore- 6 and Bogura- 1.

Rural people, who are not educated enough, but loyal to the ruling party, queued to polling stations for casting their votes on July 14. They hardly followed the rule of physical distancing although a few per cent voters went to the polling stations. That very people went to the polling stations at a time- in the morning. Considering the matter, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party refrained from participation in the election after the declaration of fresh date of by election during the rule of pandemic COVID-19 although its candidate filed nomination papers earlier before the outbreak of the disease.

In fact, the ruling Awami League nominated candidate Shahin Chaklader and Jatiya Party candidate Habibur Rahman contested the by- polls in Jashore-6.

Contestant Habibur Rahman, however, alleged that he had seen many outsiders in polling stations. A press release, issued by the Awami Matshayajibi League, fisheries wing of the ruling party, coincidently echoed the voice of Habib expressing that leaders of Awami League and the fisheries wing of the ruling party visited several polling stations. Photos supplied by the sister organization of the party in power also showed the proof.

Jashore district returning officer Humayun Kabir, however, described that voting was peaceful.

Visiting several posing stations very few polling agents of Jatiya Party and posters of the party were seen.

The Bangladesh authority has paved the way for people to people close contact whilst some part of its neighbour India back to strict lockdown.

In the meanwhile I wish to say that I don’t dare to go for an announcement asking people to attend the namaj-e-janaja (funeral) of my mother, who left us in the late afternoon of July 8, Wednesday. I did it only to avoid man-to-man contact fearing spread of novel coronavirus. As a child of that very mother I did an immoral job because a mother cannot be compared with others. But I did it for the sake of goodwill of the people around us.

Talking to me, Syed Saberul Haque Sabu, former Jashore district unit general secretary, Bangladesh Nationalist Party, said it did not take part in the election to shun coronavirus infection. As a political party BNP did the right job.

Holding the by- election during the breeding period of COVID-19, the election commission contradicts with its earlier decision. The schedule for the by-election was announced earlier for March 29, which was declared withheld due to pandemic COVID- 19 on March 21. The same election commission on July 4 further declared the date of election for July 14.

If the election now caused jeopardy for others, then who will be responsible for it?

Saifur Rahman Saif is a Bangladeshi journalist. He works at New Age, a popular newspaper. He contributed a story in Freelance Success Stories published simultaneously from the USA and Canada. He can be reached at saifnewage@gmail.com

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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