Awami League may choose new faces for the mayoral race in two of the city corporations
The government is planning to hold elections to three city corporations in Dhaka and Chittagong before “Mujib Barsho,” or Mujib Year, that begins in March next year, according to sources.
The "Mujib Year" will stretch from March 17, 2020 to March 17, 2021, marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Elections to Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) are most likely to be held in January. The Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) election is also expected to be held in March, say government sources.
However, Election Commission Secretary Md Alamgir on Tuesday told Dhaka Tribune: “We are yet to decide on the schedules for these elections. Hopefully, we will be able to fix the election dates by the end of December.”
At a press briefing on November 3, the secretary himself had announced that the elections to DNCC and DSCC would be held on the same day in the mid or last part of January, and voters of the existing lists will exercise their franchises on electronic voting machines.
He also told reporters that day the CCC election was not due before February 9, 2020, and they were yet to decide on related issues.
State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain also told Dhaka Tribune on Tuesday: “Polls in DNCC, DSCC and CCC will be held in due time.
“Apparently, schedules for the Dhaka city elections will be declared this month, and the polls are expected to be held in January. Following which, the CCC election will be held.”
He added: “The Election Commission will declare the final schedules for the elections.”
The last DNCC, DSCC, and CCC polls were held on April 28, 2015.
The first meeting of the DNCC was held on May 14, DSCC on May 17, and CCC on August 6, of the same year.
As per the Local Government (City Corporation) Act, 2009, election will be held within 180 days before the expiry of the tenure which starts from the day of the first meeting.
AL gearing up
According to sources in Awami League, after the Election Commission announced that Dhaka city elections would be held in January, a group of leaders suggested to the party chief, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, not to hold the polls ahead of the Mujib Year.
The ruling party leaders were concerned, as during Mujib Year, a number of seminars, workshops and discussions will be held both at home and abroad to showcase Bangabandhu’s life and ideals, and the newly-elected mayors of the three cities might face constraints in order to carry out such a series of events.
Hasina, the Awami League president, was initially convinced about their recommendation regarding the matter.
But, during a recently held discussion over the triennial council of the party’s Dhaka north and south units, she asked the party leaders and activists to start preparations for the city polls, sources said.
The party’s Dhaka north unit President Bazlur Rahman also told Dhaka Tribune that General Secretary Obaidul Quader has also instructed them to start preparing for the Dhaka city polls.
Requesting anonymity, two senior party leaders, who are also cabinet members, also told Dhaka Tribune that elections to Dhaka and Chittagong city corporations will be held soon.
The election schedules will be finalized and declared after the prime minister returns from Spain, said one of them, and added that Hasina wants at least two new faces in the mayoral races.
After arriving in Dhaka from Spain on Wednesday, the prime minister is expected to preside over a meeting of the party top brass at Ganabhaban this afternoon.
BNP is also preparing for the upcoming city polls and working on finalizing its mayoral candidates, according to party sources.