Election fever has gripped the divisional city and all nine upazilas of Rajshahi district as all 28 candidates in six constituencies are on hectic campaign.
Unlike in previous elections, most candidates are cautious not to violate the poll code of conduct, although several incidents of violation were reported.
Instead of coloured ones during earlier hustings, black and white posters seeking votes have virtually covered all streets, lanes and bi-lanes. Deafening sounds of loudspeakers are not annoying voters as campaign is allowed from 2pm and 8pm.
Since lifting of emergency, the candidates are making door-to-door visits, bringing out processions and holding rallies to drum up support.
Awami League candidate Omar Faruk Chowdhury is on mass contact to bag Rajshahi-1 Jatiya Sangsad seat while BNP candidate M Enamul Haque has taken the polls as a prestige issue. Enamul Haque is brother of former BNP minister Aminul Haque, now abroad after being convicted for abetting militancy.
All eyes are riveted at Rajshahi-2 constituency where grand alliance candidate Fazle Hossain Badsha is in fight with BNP's Mizanur Rahman Minu, former mayor of Rajshahi City Corporation.
All pro-liberation forces, professionals, socio-cultural and business organisations are campaigning for Badsha, coordinated by Rajshahi mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton.
Minu announced his campaigning schedule at a press conference last week.
The Badsha-Minu battle in April 2002 city corporation election (covering Rajshahi-2) drew a countrywide attention. Minu won the election amid Badsha's allegation of rigging at 20 polling centers. Election violence that time left Awami League activist Waj Nabi Dudu killed.
Former BNP lawmaker Kabir Hossain is embarrassed as Jamaat-e Islami has fielded its candidate Ataur Rahman against him in newly created constituency of Rajshahi-3, where AL candidate Meraj Uddin Mollah is trying hard to cash in on the BNP-Jamaat rivalry.
In Rajshahi-4, both BNP's Abdul Gafur and AL's Enamul Haque are anxious as veteran politician and AL leader Sarder Amjad Hossain is also in the race there as an independent candidate. Amjad has a vote bank in the area, locals said.
Both BNP and AL have fielded new faces Nazrul Islam and M Abdul Wadud Dara at Rajshahi-5.
“I do not have any time to talk to family members…I want to visit every house and meet every voter before the election”, Dara told this correspondent yesterday.