Yesterday marked the second-ever city elections in Rangpur, where highly impressive security measures were taken to ensure a fair and legitimate election overseen by the Election Commission.
Polling stations were fitted with CCTV cameras to ensure that not even security personnel would dare to act out of line; the Election Commission has termed it a “model election” for subsequent city corporation elections.
Located all the way up north in Rangpur Division, and established only five years ago after it was upgraded from a municipality (pouroshava), Rangpur is a fairly young city. It has the potential to become a major regional centre and transform the north into a vibrant commercial and cultural hub.
Around 35% of our enormous population lives in urban areas while most of the country remains rural, creating a tremendous pressure on the few cities we have.
Lack of economic opportunities in rural areas has led to an incredible migratory pressure on Dhaka, rendering the city almost unliveable.
At present, we only have seven operational city corporations outside the Dhaka division -- Mymensingh will be the eighth, having been added to the list only last month -- and it is imperative that we decentralise from Dhaka and develop other regions.
The Rangpur election, therefore, signifies a much-needed move towards decentralisation and regional progress. But for decentralisation to have its intended effect, these newly formed cities must be developed in a planned manner, which requires local leadership.
That is why it is important that the candidate most suited to the task wins, and that can only be ensured through a fair and credible election.