All eyes are now on Naryanganj City Corporation (NCC) that goes to polls on Thursday as the election is considered vital ahead of the reconstitution of the next Election Commission that will conduct the next parliamentary polls, Agencies report.
People across the country are also waiting to see whether the outgoing Election Commission will be able to be to pick their next city mayor through the ballot, no matter whether it is Awami League candidate Dr Salina Hayat Ivy or BNP contender Sakhawat Hossain Khan.
The voting will open at 8am and continue till 4pm without any break in the second NCC election. It is the country’s first city election that is being held along the political party line. The polls to the mayoral post will be held with both political party-nominated candidates and independent contestants, while election to councillor posts will be held in a non-partisan manner.
Some 4.75 lakh voters will be allowed to exercise their franchise in 174 polling stations. But almost all the polling stations are considered vulnerable in terms of security.
According to statistics provided by the Election Commission (EC), 145 out of 174 polling stations are ‘important’ (vulnerable) centres in terms of security. Of the all 48 polling stations located under Bandar Thana are vulnerable.
Besides, 55 out of 66 polling stations are vulnerable in Sidhwirganj thana, while 31 out of 45 stations in Sadar and 11 out of 15 polling stations are vulnerable in Fatullah thana. A 24-member security team comprising seven policemen with arms, three Battalion Ansar men with arms, two embedded Ansar with arms and 12 embedded Ansar/VDP members with sticks will protect each vulnerable polling centre, while a 22-member security team will guard each normal polling station.
A total of 8,000 law enforcers, including 4,000 police members, 3,000 Ansar members, will ensure security in the city on the election day. A total of 22 platoons of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), three platoons of coast guards, 36 teams comprising of police, APBn and Ansar, 27 teams of Rab have been working as mobile or reserve forces in the election since Tuesday.
Besides, 36 executive magistrates and 14 judicial magistrates will conduct mobile court to check polls code violations and vote fraud. A total of 4,79,392 voters –2,41,514 men and 2,37,878 women — are expected to exercise their voting rights in the polls to elect a city mayor, 27 ward councillors and nine women councillors from reserved seats.
Seven mayoral candidates are in the election race. Of them, Dr Salina Hayat Ivy and Advocate Sakhawat Hossain Khan are considered as frontrunners as they are contesting the election for the mayoral post with symbols ‘boat’ and ‘paddy’s sheaf’ – the election symbols of two major political parties — Awami League and BNP.
The five other mayoral contenders are Mahbubur Rahman Ismail of Bangladesh Biplabi Workers Party, Kamal Prodhan of LDP, Maulana Md Masum Billah of Islami Andolan Bangladesh, Mufti Azharul Haque of Islami Oikyajot, Md Rashed Ferdous of Bangladesh Kalyan Party.
Besides, 156 general councillor candidates are contesting the election in 27 wards, while 38 councillor contenders in nine reserved seats. A total of 144 election observers, including two foreigners are supposed to watch the election as they have taken permission from the EC in this regard.
Election Commissioner Shah Nawaz on Wednesday said the Election Commission has completed all necessary preparations to arrange the election in a free and fair manner. The maiden election to NCC was held on October 30, 2011 when Dr Salina Hayat Ivy was elected the country’s first female city mayor defeating Awami League-backed Shamim Osman with a margin of over one lakh votes.
In that non-partisan election, Ivy bagged 1,80,048 votes with ink pot symbol, while Shamim pocketed only 78,705 votes with wall clock symbol among the total 4,04,189 votes. BNP-blessed mayoral candidate Taimur Alam Khandaker had quit the race hours before the election as per instruction of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia.
The city corporation is comprised of 27 wards under two upazilas –Sadar and Bandar–and four police stations — Narayanganj, Bandar, Sidwirganj and Fatulla.