Thursday, July 10, 2008

Old faces show up again with belied pledges

Rajshahi city dwellers demand live TV programmes by polls aspirants

Anwar Ali, Rajshahi

Shahadat Hossain, Moniruzzaman Sharif, Rejaunnabi Al Mamun

The electorate, 'cheated' in the past, are bewildered as old faces, many of them tainted, are showing up in the upcoming city corporation polls with old unfulfilled pledges.

Among 16 mayor aspirants, 13 are known persons belonging to different political parties. They are now making pledges anew for a 'beautiful and developed Rajshahi city' free from corruption, terrorism and drugsthe same promises they made ahead of 2002 city corporation election.

Among 236 councilor aspirants and 62 women candidates, some 100 are known political personalities. The 26 incumbent councilors, including six having records of facing criminal charges, are also in race in Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) election scheduled for August 4.

The mayoral candidates have already started reiterating almost the same old pledges in small gatherings and party meetings.Many citizens talking to this correspondent said the candidates should make their commitments formally in live television programmes.

According to police, four mayoral aspirants Workers' Party Politburo member Fazle Hossain Badsha, city Awami League president Masudul Haque Dulua and BNP leader Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul and Rajshahi city Bikalpa Dhara president Akhtaruzzaman Bablu were accused in cases.

They all were however acquitted by court.Acting mayor Rejaunnabi Dudu, who was allegedly involved in corruption with Rajshahi Development Authority, is also an aspirant to retain the post.

Other mayor aspirants are AHM Khairuzzaman Liton and Nasir Ahmed Biddyut of AL, Enamul Haque and Jahan Panna fof BNP, Durul Huda from Jatiya Party (Ershad), Ruhul Kuddus Tunu of BSD (Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal) and Raihanur Rahman of PDP (Progressive Democratic Party).

Rejaunnabi Al Mamun, RCC councilor from ward no. 15, who is accused in 10 criminal cases, also submitted nomination. Police said he is evading arrest.

Another polls runner Moniruzzaman Sharif, councilor from ward no. 19, is widely blamed for land grabbing, cheating people. He was arrested in January by joint forces on charge of criminal activities.

Shahadat Hossain Sahu, councilor from ward no. 17, arrested nine months ago for criminal offences, was released recently. He and his wife Nazma Ali also submitted nominations.

There are allegations of terrorism and tender manipulations against councilors Rabiul Alam Milu and Tarikul Alam Paltu, both aspirants in the coming polls. A businessman quoting records of law an order committee meeting claimed that at least 60,000 bottles of phensidyl flew into the city everyday, although making it drug-free was an election pledge.

Promises made ahead of 2002 RCC polls include pipeline supply of gas to Rajshahi city to boot industries, not to increase taxes, reduce water crisis, build new educational institutes and construct new roads. All remained unfulfilled.

Despite pledges not to increase taxes, holding taxes were increased by 20 per cent and water tariff by 50 per cent in last ten years, said Zamat Khan, convenor of Rajshahi Rakkha Sangram Parishad (RRSP), a citizens' body.

“We reminded the authorities of their pledges”, he said. Rajshahi University teacher Dr Golam Sabbir Sattar said, “We are deprived of civic amenities despite giving taxes.”

Lawyer Habibur Rahman said, he can not hope a change through the upcoming election as old faces are showing up and making the same old promises.

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