With the 11th national election on the horizon, these three are crucial contests for all parties
Elections to Rajshahi, Barisal and Sylhet city corporations will be held Monday.
With the 11th national election on the horizon, these three are crucial contests for all parties. The ruling party Awami League is confident of victory in at least two, and its main rival BNP has been vocal, alleging violations of the electoral code and persecution of its party members.
The Election Commission has said it is determined to have clean elections in the three cities.
Voting starts at 8am and will continue till 4pm without any break.
AL confident, BNP in doubt
Ruling Awami League’s mayoral candidates in Barisal, Rajshahi and Sylhet are quite confident about winning the election, while BNP candidates have expressed their doubts about a free and fair election.
BNP mayoral candidates in all three city corporations have brought allegations that law enforcement agencies are harassing their activists and polling agents.
On Sunday noon, BNP Joint Secretary General Barrister Mahbub Uddin Khokon and Law Affairs Secretary Kaiser Kamal visited the Election Commission and lodged complaints about the detainment and harassment of leaders and activists in Sylhet, Rajshahi, and Barisal.
Khokon and Kaiser met with Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda and Election Commissioners Mahbub Talukder and Brig Gen (retd) Shahdat Hossain Chowdhury.
BNP has also submitted a five-point demand. They demanded that false cases against its activists in the three cities be withdrawn and actions be taken against policemen involved; no more arrests without warrants; no arrest of polling agents without justifiable reason; media to be allowed inside polling stations during polls; and immediate action against anyone trying to rig the polls.
BNP also alleged that Barisal city election candidate Mojibor Rahman Sarwar was barred by police from campaigning on the last day.
On Saturday evening, the last day of campaigning, Sarwar left the city BNP office with 70-80 supporters but was barred by police who said he could only take eight people.
In Rajshahi, Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul, BNP mayoral candidate claimed that they have been unable to trace at least 20 of his polling agents since Saturday night.
Bulbul along with his chief election agent, BNP leaders and activists went to the EC office in the city at noon and submitted a written complaint to the EC regional officials.
Ariful Haque Chowdhury, BNP nominated candidate for Sylhet City Corporation election, alleged that police had arrested his election campaign staff.
He alleged that police and Awami League activists had been threatening his polling agents and supporters at their homes.
On the other hand, AHM Khairuzzamanan Liton, Awami League mayoral candidate for RCC, claimed he is going to win the contest with a 70,000-vote lead over the BNP candidate.
Badar Uddin Kamran, the Awami League nominated candidate for SCC and Serniabat Sadiq Abdullah, Awami League candidate for BCC, have expressed similar confidence.
Jamaat, BNP divide in Sylhet
BNP’s long time ally Jamaat-e-Islami has split in Sylhet to float its own mayoral candidate.
Ariful Haque Chowdhury, the candidate for the BNP-led 20-party alliance, will be facing off with two rebel aspirants from Jamaat and BNP itself, in addition to former mayor Badar Uddin Ahmed Kamran from the ruling Awami League.
Jamaat’s Sylhet city unit chief Ehsanul Mahbub Zubair, who is running as an independent runner, has said that ahead of the election, having their own candidate is an important move for the party.
Lone female mayoral candidate in Barisal
The Socialist Party of Bangladesh’s (BSD) Manisha Chakraborty has drawn attention for being the only female candidate in all three races, and having a unique election campaign and manifesto.
The 28-year-old is the first female mayoral candidate in the history of Barisal City election. She is campaigning under the slogan “a corporation of people.”
Manisha, a physician, left the civil service for politics.
Few minority candidates
Among the 17 mayoral candidates, only one is female and from the Hindu religious community. Of the 512 councillor candidates, only 17 represent various minority groups.
In Sylhet around 18% of voters are categorized as minority, but only nine male candidates among 126 councillors and five women from 55 reserved seat candidates from those communities are contesting in election.
In Barisal 11% voters are in the minority groups, but only four candidates, one for mayoral race and three for councillors, are contesting in the election.
Most centres labelled risky
Law enforcement agencies are considering most polling stations in the elections to Barisal, Sylhet and Rajshahi city corporations as risky.
The Election Commission has deployed additional law enforcement members to maintain law and order at such polling stations.
According to EC officials 112 out of 123 polling stations in Barisal city, 80 of the 134 polling stations in Sylhet and 114 of the 138 polling stations in Rajshahi were being considered risky.
To maintain law and order during the elections, 22 members of police, Ansar and VDP will be deployed at every general centre, and 24 at every risky vote centre.
During the elections, the EC will deploy 87 platoons of RAB. Thirty platoons each will be deployed in Rajshahi and Barisal and 27 platoons in Sylhet.
One platoon of RAB will be deployed in each general ward.
Forty-four platoons of border troopers will be deployed in the three cities. Fifteen platoons each will be in Rajshahi and Barisal and 14 in Sylhet. Among them, one platoon of BGB troopers have been deployed for two general wards.
Mobile and striking forces, comprised of police, Armed Police Battalion, and Ansar will be deployed in each city. Thirty platoons of mobile force and 10 platoons of striking force each will be in Rajshahi and Barisal. In Sylhet, 27 platoons of mobile force and 10 platoons of striking force will be on duty.
Executives and judicial magistrates will also be on duty during the polls.
Shohel Mamun, Mahadi Al Hasnat, Saidun Nabi, Fazlur Rahman Raju, Bilkis Irani, Dulal Abdullah, Mohammed Serajul Islam and Anisur Rahman Swapan contributed to this story