The Awami League candidate bags 176,902 votes and BNP’s Nazrul Islam Monju 108,956
Awami League’s candidate Talukder Abdul Khaleque has been elected the next mayor of Khulna City Corporation, beating his closest rival BNP-blessed aspirant Nazrul Islam Monju by 67,946 votes.
The voting was held on Tuesday from 8am to 4pm at 289 polling centres across the city, which has 493,107 voters in 31 wards, amid allegations of irregularities and vote rigging.
Before all other centres, results had come in from two polling centres where votes were cast through electronic voting machines (EVMs) for the first time on an experimental basis. Khaleque bagged 777 votes at those centres and Monju 710.
Around 7:30pm, Khaleque had secured a huge lead securing 57,322 votes in 100 centres against Monju’s 35,762 votes.
Unofficial estimate made later in the evening showed Khaleque had bagged a total of 176,902 votes at 286 polling centres while Monju got 108,956 votes. The official announcement was not issued till the filing of this report around 11pm.
Voting was suspended at three centres due to irregularities, according to Election Commission officials.
"Building a Khulna city free of drugs, waterlogging and terrorism will be my first job," Khaleque told reporters in his immediate reaction.
The ruling party leader also said he would work together with Monju for the betterment of their city.
Returning Officer Yunus Ali said the voter turnout during the ballot was 55-60%.
Khaleque cast his ballot at a polling centre set up at Pioneer Girls' High School polling around 8:07am, and Monju at the Rahima Government Primary School centre around the same time.
Meanwhile, seeing the signs of victory with a big margin, overzealous supporters of the Awami League-backed candidate brought out a procession in the Station Road area in the metropolis around 7:10pm.
On the other hand, supporters of the BNP candidate alleged that activists of the ruling party stuffed ballot boxes with fake votes after forcing Monju’s polling agents out of the polling centres.
They also assaulted Monju’s activists and supporters, the BNP men further alleged.
“Activists and leaders of Awami League drove out my polling agents from 40 centres,” Monju alleged, adding that his agents were obstructed from entering the polling centres in different wards.
Refuting the allegations, Khaleque claimed, however, that the election was held in a peaceful and fair manner.
“BNP has beenraising such false allegation from the beginning to spoil the electoral atmosphere. These are ungrounded allegations. He [Monju] has been saying this every day. The Election Commission would have taken steps had it found them true.”
Safiqur Rahman of the Ershad-led Jatiya Party, Maulana Muzammel Haque of Islami Andolon Bangladesh, and Mizanur Rahman Babu, who is backed by an alliance of five leftist parties, also vied for the mayoral post.
A total of 148 candidates competed for 31 councillor posts in the city corporation, and 39 female candidates for 10 councillor seats reserved for women.