Some 614 Union Parishads (UPs) in 48 districts across the country are going to polls on Saturday in the third phase of the election to the lowest tier of the local government body, agencies report. The balloting will be held from 8am to 4pm without any break.
Nearly 30,000 candidates, including over 2,600 chairman contestants, are in the election race in the 614 UPs that have some 1.10 crore voters in 6,075 polling stations. Twenty-five chairman candidates, all from ruling Awami League, have already been elected uncontested.
Of the 25 single chairman candidates, five each are in Kushtia and Munshiganj, four in Narayanganj, two each in Shariatpur, Comilla and Laxmipur, and one each in Jamalpur, Jhenidah, Rajbari, Noakhali and Khagrachhari. As per the latest statistics provided by the Election Commission, some 1,450 candidates from 13 political parties while around 1,150 independent contenders are contesting the polls.
Though AL has contestants in all the UPs, its archrival BNP has no chairman candidates in 81 UPs in this phase. Besides, 156 chairman candidates of HM Ershad-led Jatiya Party are in the election race. Meanwhile, 20,943 contestants for member posts and 6,298 candidates for reserved seats (exclusively for women) contesting the election.
Of the contestants, 174 member candidates and 79 candidates for reserved seats have already been elected unopposed finding no rivals against their posts. Five magistrates — four executive ones and a judicial one — remain deployed to punish polling irregularities for four days from Thursday in each of 87 upazilas.
Alongside the magistrates, additional number of police, Rab, BGB, APBn, Ansar and Coast Guard would remain deployed for the four days in the election areas to maintain electoral environment. Since the first two phases of the UP elections were largely marred by violence and irregularities, many fear recurrence of such incidents in the third phase.
Over three dozens of people have so far been killed in election-related violence since February 11 last, the day the Commission announced the schedule for the first phase of the staggered UP elections.
Ruling AL on Thursday last conveyed its party’s chief Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s views to the EC that she does not want to see any anomaly, fault and deviation in the elections, but there is still doubt about whether the EC will be able to check violence and irregularities in this phase.
On March 15, the EC announced the election schedule for the third phase. In the first two phases of elections held in March last, a total of 87 AL chairman contestants went unopposed, while BNP had no chairman candidates in some 200 UPs out of 1370.
As part of the EC’s plan to arrange polls to 4,275 UPs out of the country’s total 4546 in six phases by June next, the Commission has so far announced the election schedules for the first five phases.