The Khulna City Corporation(KCC) election may serve as an indicator of the upcoming parliamentary election as the Awami League and BNP candidates continue to exchange heated statements, Agencies report
Election observers believe the Khulna poll on May 15, with mayoral candidates from major political parties Awami League, BNP, Jatiya party and CPB, will provide a glimpse of the political environment for the next general election.
The Election Working Group or EWG Director Abdul Alim said the present Election Commission led by KM Nurul Huda now faces heightened expectations after running successful polls in Cumilla and Rangpur last year.
The Khulna city polls have also gained in important as both AL and BNP are raising questions regarding the EC’s role in addition to pointing fingers at each other, he told bdnews24.com.
“The Khulna city polls are exuding an overall atmosphere similar to the national election as candidates are using their party emblems, serving as an indication of how the next poll will be. It is definitely a challenge for the EC,” said the EWG director.
He expects the election will be competitive and needs to be devoid of irregularities, as otherwise it may create a negative impact on all quarters.
However, he warned people not to make any assumption regarding the national election based on the results of Khulna city poll despite candidates’ use of the party emblems. It will, however, indicate an escalation of how the EC will maintain trust and a peaceful environment, he said.
The present environment of Khulna City Corporation poll seems satisfactory due to the good and eligible candidates are participating in the election, said Munira Khan, president of private election observers Fair Election Monitoring Alliance or FEMA. But the EC still has a challenge in conducting the election, she said.
“The Election Commission should take up the issue seriously as it will increase EC’s positive image to voters, political groups and to the candidates,” she told bdnews24.
Both AL and BNP have complained against the EC for not getting equal opportunities at the Khulna City poll.
The Awami League has complained that central leaders of BNP are participating in the election campaign while they are not being allowed to bring their own central leaders. They have also claimed the returning officer being an aide of BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami will influence the election.
The BNP, on the other hand, said the police commissioner of Khulna is threating and arresting its members. It also said EC has sent its joint secretary to influence the returning officer.
“Political groups may have allegations against us but the EC is taking all possible measures to ensure a successful election,” said Election Commission Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed.
He assured any complaint will be scrutinised and handled.
“Political parties, candidates, voters and media- all have their eyes glued on Khulna to observe the polling environment,” Helaluddin said.
Although the political groups have expressed their own opinions regarding the deployment of the military, the EC has reaffirmed that it will not deploy the army at the local level election.
OUTSIDERS NOT ALLOWED FROM SATURDAY; LAST DAY OF CAMPAIGN ON SUNDAY
Voting for Khulna City Corporation will take place on Tuesday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. All outsiders will have to leave the election area by midnight on Saturday and candidates have to cease all kinds of campaign before 32 hours of election, said Farhad Hossain, Deputy Secretary of Election Management and Coordination Division, EC.
KHULNA UNDER 4-DAY TIGHT SECURITY FROM SUNDAY
Law enforcement agencies, including police, BGB, RAB, Ansar-VDP will remain engaged in maintaining law and order in Khulna from May 13 to 16, before and after the city corporation election.
They will be carrying all polling equipment to the centres, as well as ensuring their security. At least 22-24 law enforcement agents will be deployed at each centre.
Executive magistrates have been performing their duties in three stages since the polling schedule was declared. They will be working for a four-day-stretch – two days before and two days after the election. The EC has deployed 49 executive magistrates and 10 judicial magistrates on the day of vote.
At least 10 election officers of EC will observe the election.
FOUR MORE TO GO
Four city corporations will have to hold polls after Khulna. The term for Gazipur ends on Sep 4, Oct 8 for Sylhet, Oct 5 for Rajshahi, and Oct 23 for Barishal. Gazipur had its last city corporation election on Jul 6, 2013 while Khulna, Rajshahi, Barishal and Sylhet had their last election on Jun 15, 2013.
BNP backed candidates had won in all five cities in the 2013 election. The mayoral candidates will take campaign using their party symbols, which was not the case in the election five years ago.
Chief Election Commissioner Nurul Huda said the local level elections will be completed by July as the Eleventh Parliamentary Election is due between November and January.