The BNP-led alliance-backed candidates and its rebel candidates boycotted upazila elections in at seven upazilas bringing allegations of ouster of their agents and voters at different centres. The upazilas are: Sujanagar of Pabna, Shailakupa of Jhenidah, Meherpur Sadar, Gouranadi and Bakerganj of Barisal, Kazipur of Sirajganj and Lalmohon of Bhola. Meanwhile, the BNP called daylong hartal for today (Thursday) in eight upazilas protesting irregularities and vote rigging in the elections by ruling party ‘armed cadres’ and attack on BNP-backed candidates and their supporters. BNP Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi Ahmed made the announcement at a press conference at the party’s Nayapaltan central office in the city on Wednesday evening. The upazilas, where the hartal has been called are Sujanagar of Pabna, Shailakupa of Jhenaidah, Meherpur Sadar, Sonatola of Bogra, Gouranadi and Bakerganj of Barisal, Kazipur of Sirajganj and Bajitpur of Kishoreganj. Announcing the hartal, Rizvi alleged that polling agents of BNP-backed candidates were forced out of different voting centres during the first phase of upazila elections. He said that the ruling party did it in a bid to ensure a one sided election like that of January 5 election. The ruling party candidates, inspired by the controversial January-5 election, were involved in vote rigging, he added. The monitoring cell of the BNP, which was set up for observing the upazila polls, monitored the polls from the Nayapaltan office. Rizvi Ahmed claimed that armed cadres of Awami League-backed candidate at Meherpur Sadar Upazila captured all voting centres. He also said ruling party cadres carried out attacks on BNP backed candidates in Bakerganj and Gournadi upazilas in Barisal. He alleged that under the blessings of a minister, ruling party men captured at least 16 poll centres in Gosaibari upazila of Shariatpur. Rizvi, however, did not mention the name of the minister. In Sujanagar, local BNP announced a daylong hartal protesting that the supporters of the ruling party-backed candidates occupied at least 50 polling centres during the voting. BNP-backed chairman candidate Hazari Zakir Hossain Chunnu announced boycotting the election protesting capture of polling centers. In Shailkupa, BNP-backed chairman candidate Rakibul Hasan boycotted the election and called a daylong hartal in the upazila. He alleged that that the supporters of the ruling party-backed candidates prevented his supporters from casting their votes. Voting at two centres in Shailkupa upazila of Jhenidah and Sonatola upazila of Bogra has also been suspended after ruling party men allegedly snatched away ballot papers and boxes. The authorities suspended voting at Mathurapur Govt Primary School polling centre in the upazila after ruling party men allegedly snatched ballot papers and boxes from the centre. Protesting the incident, BNP will observe a half-day hartal in the upazila today (Thursday). In Jhenidah Sadar, a mobile court jailed an Awami League-backed Union Parishad chairman in Jhenidah for three months and fined him Tk 50,000 for driving out the agents of a pro-opposition candidate at the Kalamonkhali Primary School Polling Centre in Sadar upazila. Besides, four people were injured as the supporters of AL- and BNP-backed candidates clashed at Ganna Primary School polling centre in same upazila in the morning on the day. In Gouranadi, six candidates including BNP backed chairman candidate boycotted the election in the upazila alleging that the supporters of ruling party candidates obstructed their supporters from casting their votes. Chairman candidate Abul Hossain Mia along with the rebel candidates declared their election boycott at a joint press briefing in the morning soon after the beginning of voting. Later, upazila unit BNP president Engineer Abdus Sobhan called a half-day shutdown in the upazila today (Thursday) protesting the vote fraud. In Bakerganj, BNP-backed chairman candidate Khalilur Rahman and Awami League Rebel candidate Atiqur Rahman announced withdrawal of their candidacy protesting ouster of their agents from the polling centres. In Meherpur Sadar, BNP-backed chairman candidate announced the election boycott at a press conference in the upazila protesting obstruction of their supporters and voters by the ruling party men from casting their votes. Jamaat-backed vice chairman and woman vice chairman candidates were present at the press conference. In Sonatola, polling was suspended at Huakua Govt High School centre in Sonatala upazila of Bogra after chases and counter-chases between the supporters of ruling Awami League and BNP in the morning on the day. The ruling party men also snatched away polling materials including ballot papers from the centre, reports our Bogra correspondent quoting locals. Khadija Khatun, assistant presiding officer of the booth, told the media that they were confined to the centre during the clashes.