The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) wants to 'cling to the last minute' in the upcoming municipal polls race due on December 30, although the party is concerned over security of its leaders and activists.
But BNP insiders say, in view of "mounting repressions," they are being increasingly apprehensive about contesting the polls in a free and congenial atmosphere.
BNP Vice Chairman Maj (retd) Hafiz Uddin Ahmed alleged that law enforcing agencies and activists of ruling Awami League (AL) have been harassing his party candidates and their family members almost on a daily basis.
He said BNP mayoral and councillor candidates and their families have been threatened by the police, RAB and AL men to stay away from the polls or face dire consequences, he told the daily Observer on Thursday.
As such, many of the BNP nominees in the country's first ever party-based local government polls could not file their nominations or were forced to withdraw from the race.
"It is true that members of the law enforcement agencies can arrest anybody at any time. But at present whatever they are doing, is nothing but misuse of the law," Hafiz said.
They are making arrest of BNP candidates and their supporters on the campaign trails despite not being charged in any case. The homes of several candidates have been raided and ransacked by police and Awami League activists, Hafiz alleged.
He said only two out of 16 BNP nominated candidates were able to submit nomination papers in Bhola Sadar municipality due to threats and excesses done by the AL activists, the BNP leader added.
Ignoring such threats, the party leaders, who submitted their nomination papers, are facing harassment almost every day by the ruling party men and members of the law enforcement agencies across the country, BNP sources said.
Dr Shahdin Malik, an eminent jurist, said, "There has been concern over fair polls due to the harassment of opposition leaders and activists though no accused leader or activist has yet been convicted by courts."
BNP alleged that some unruly leaders and activists of the ruling Awami League locked the doors of the residence of BNP Feni district unit President Advocate Abu Taher on Monday as he filed appeal petition on behalf of his party nominated mayoral candidate Fazlur Rahman Bakul.
Selim Reza, BNP-nominated mayor candidates in Chowgaccha Municipality in Jessore, alleged that members of the law enforcement agencies are raiding houses of his party leaders and activists on a daily basis.
Apart from the joint forces drive, on Friday police raided the residence of former Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal leader Hasibul Hasan and ransacked some of his furniture.
"They also threatened my family members to remain inactive in the upcoming polls, although we are not active in politics except my expatriate son Hasibul," said Abu Hossain, father of Hasibul Hasan.
BNP, however, is trying hard to field single candidate for each mayoral and councillor post in all the constituencies. As part of its effort, the party Chairperson Khaleda Zia is giving directions to the party leaders.
We are also working hard to control rebel candidates in the polls, he added.