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Dhaka Tribune

BNP breaks into AL stronghold

Update : 07 Jul 2013, 02:31 AM

The BNP-backed mayoral hopeful MA Mannan enjoyed an unassailable lead in the maiden Gazipur City Corporation (GCC) election, according to unofficial results that were available at 1:20am when the report was filed.

Gazipur is considered one of the strongholds of the Awami League, next to Gopalganj district, but the latest poll result dealt a further blow to the ruling party, following their defeat in the four city corporation elections on June 15.

Results from 193 polling centers, of 392, showed that Mannan bagged 174,514 votes while Awami League-led 14-party supported Azmat Ullah Khan received 125,557 Votes.

According to Election Commission, over 60% of the total 1,026,938 voters (of whom 4,99,161 are female), exercised their franchise between 8am and 4pm in voting centres across the 330-square kilometre city corporation, comprised of two former municipalities – Gazipur Sadar and Tongi.

Thousands of enthusiastic voters turned up at the polling stations, braving the rain, and crossing stagnant water and muddy roads, in some parts of the city corporation inhabited by lower income groups.

The turnout of women voters, mainly readymade garment workers, was remarkable.

The ruling coalition viewed the city polls as a challenge since Awami League-backed candidates were defeated in the Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet and Barisal city polls.

Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad also extended support to Azmat Ullah at the last minute, but his support was in vain.

Rumours that BNP candidate MA Mannan would pull out of the race were heard over the course of the day, across the various areas covered by the city corporation, causing confusion amongst voters.

BNP leaders and activists alleged that polling centres were occupied by Awami League men, but the correspondents’ visits to these centres found no signs of these activists.

A large number of law enforcment agencies were deployed in the constituency to avert any untoward situations.

After casting his vote at the Islamia Fazil Degree Madrasa centre, Mannan alleged that authorities and local Awami League leaders were trying to manipulate the polls to get Azmat Ullah Khan the win.

Later on in the day Mannan said the people of the city had given their verdict against the corruption and misdeeds of the government.

According to information of his polling agents, Mannan claimed he was leading the race by a margin of more than 100,000 votes against his rival.

He, however, said: “I do not believe that voting was absolutely fair. At many centres, my agents were harassed throughout the day,” and made allegations of rigging in at least 50 polling stations.

Talking to reporters at the returning officer’s office last night, Mannan thanked the voters for their judgment.

The correspondents’ visit to the spots showed that most of these allegations were unfounded.

The violations of the electoral code of conduct did not go unnoticed in parts of the city corporation.

The supporters of Mannan and Azmat brought out processions chanting slogans in favour of their respective candidates during voting.

Political observers say the ruling party-backed candidate’s defeat in the Awami League stronghold, Gazipur, ahead of the national election, is an ominous signal for the party.

They term the defeat a representation of the big dent in the popularity of Awami League and a boost for the opposition BNP, which has been demanding restoration of the non-party caretaker government to oversee the next general elections.

In the last four general elections (excluding the controversial polls in February), BNP candidates won two seats in 1991 and one in 2001 in Gazipur, and the rest went to the Awami League candidates.

The Awami League won all Gazipur seats in 1996 and 2008 elections. 

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