With archrivals the Awami League and the BNP going head to head, the country’s attention today would be on Narayanganj city, which goes to polls to elect its mayor and 36 councillors, Agencies report .
Voters began exercising their franchise in all the 174 centres in the river port city at 8am. Voting will continue until 4pm, Agencies report. This is the first time the Narayanganj city polls are being contested along party lines.
Though seven candidates are in the fray for the Mayor’s position, the frontrunners are outgoing Mayor and Awami League candidate Selina Hayat Ivy and BNP’s Shakhawat Hossain Khan.
Khan, a lawyer by profession, has been representing the victims of the infamous multiple murder case. While Ivy is fighting the election by promising ‘ continuity of development’, Khan has called for a ‘change of face’ and promised to take development to a ‘new height’.
The ruling Awami League is banking on Ivy’s track record in development, the BNP on the usual anti-incumbency in what is turning out to be a prestige fight between the two major parties of the country.
Awami League leaders say Ivy’s victory will be seen as an endorsement for the government’s track record in development.The BNP leaders are hoping for a popular backlash against what they describe as the ‘many failures’ of the Awami League to give them victory.
BNP leaders have ruled out a poll boycott, like last time, and said they will fight to the very end, come what may. But they have also asked for the deployment of the army to ensure fair polls – a request refused by the Election Commission.
But a large posse of BGB, RAB, armed police and other forces have been deployed to ensure a peaceful and fair vote. Election Commission secretary Mohammed Abdullah said security arrangements have been tightened to ensure a peaceful and fair poll.
“Any attempt to disrupt polling will be dealt with firmly,” he said.
“137 polling centres have been identified as vulnerable and special attention security attention has been given to them. Stern action will be taken to thwart any untoward incidents,” said Returning Officer Nuruzzaman Talukder. “Security officers will be ordered to fire if there is any attempt to snatch ballot papers or boxes.
“On Wednesday the elite police unit Rapid Action Battalion deployed its dog squad and bomb disposal unit as part of the security measures.