Dhaka City Polls

Campaign ends amid fear, code violation

Border guards deployed

Staff Correspondent | Published: 23:38, Jan 30,2020 | Updated: 00:54, Jan 31,2020

 
 

Clockwise from top left, electioneering on Thursday by Dhaka south city’s Awami League candidate Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh in Gopibagh, BNP mayoral candidate Ishraque Hossain in Gopibagh, and Dhaka north city’s BNP candidate Tabith Awal in Moghbazar and Awami League candidate Atiqul Islam in Bhasantek. — Abdullah Apu and Sourav Lasker

The 20-day-long campaigning by the candidates for the elections to the Dhaka north and south cities ended on Thursday night with the alleged violation of the electoral code of conduct on a large scale as the Election Commission dismissed the allegations.

To maintain the law and order for the polls tomorrow, 65 platoons of Border Guard Bangladesh members have been deployed in the electoral areas, in addition to police, Ansar and Rapid Action Battalion personnel.

BGB members have started patrolling the Dhaka city since Thursday morning, said BGB Public Relations Officer Shariful Islam.

A total of 65 platoons of BGB men have been deployed in the Dhaka North and South city corporation areas to avoid any untoward incident, he said.

The BGB personnel will continue to patrol the city till February 2, the BGB officer said, adding that two BGB platoons would remain on alert for each ward and another10 platoons would remain ready as the reserved force.

 

BGB soldiers patrol road in Dhaka on Thursday ahead of the city elections to be held on February 1. — New Age photo

According to the Election Commission secretariat, along with the BGB personnel, around fifty thousand members of the Rapid Action Battalion, police and Ansar will also be deployed in Dhaka for the polls.

Chief election commissioner KM Nurul Huda at a press conference on Thursday said that the commission had completed all its preparations for holding the polls peacefully.

Addressing a press conference at the Bangladesh Nationalist Party central office at Naya Paltan in the capital party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir alleged that the ruling Awami League was now making all-out efforts to get the January 1 Dhaka city elections held under their control.

On the other hand, Awami League general secretary and road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader on the day accused the Bangladesh Nationalist Party of having hatched a conspiracy to make the Dhaka city corporations polls questionable after sensing their defeat.

‘After failing to garner support of the voters, the BNP is hiring armed goons to create anarchy ahead of the city polls…There is information that they have planned to deploy 500 terrorists for each polling centre to establish their control,’ said Quader while briefing journalists after party’s secretariat meeting in the capital.

Mentioning that the two AL mayoral candidates a had clean image, Obaidul hoped that the voters would elect them mayors for building Dhaka as a developed city free from pollution, water logging and traffic jams.

On the last day of the electioneering, the AL mayoral candidates as well as party lawmakers in presence of a minister urged voters to celebrate the Mujib Year by voting for boat while the BNP mayoral candidates feared whether their polling agents would be able to go to and stay at the polling centres.

The AL and BNP candidates blamed each other saying that they would create instability on the polling day.

The Awami League on the day brought out processions across the city in support of their mayoral and councilor candidates, breaching electoral code of conduct.

The BNP also brought out processions in support of their candidates on the day.

Addressing a rally at Bhashantek in the capital, Dhaka north city AL mayoral candidate M Atiqul Islam urged the voters to cast their votes for boat to continue the development activities in Dhaka.

‘Let us celebrate the Mujib Year by voting for boat on February 1,’ he said.

BNP mayoral candidate for the Dhaka north city Tabith Awal, while exchanging views with journalists at the National Press Club, feared whether their polling agents would be able to go to the polling centres and whether they would be able stay at the polling stations.

He, however, said that they would make their final comments after the elections.

AL mayoral candidate for the Dhaka south city Sheikh Fazle Noor Tapsoh, addressing a street rally in the Gopibagh area, alleged that the BNP was plotting to take control of 170 polling centers on the election day.

The mayoral candidate, in the afternoon, joined a rally at the eastern gate of the Suhrwardy Udyan marking the Mujib Year where Taposh and other AL leaders, including lawmaker Amir Hossain Amu, sought votes for Taposh.

BNP’s Dhaka south city mayoral candidate Ishraque Hossain, ruling out Taposh’s allegation, said that he had information that the AL was gathering miscreants from different districts, even by launches to create an unstable situation throughout the Dhaka city on the election day.

He alleged that the Awami League was spreading propaganda seeing the mass wave for the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

Addressing a press conference at the Rapid Action Battalion media centre at Kawran Bazar its director general Benazir Ahmed urged those to leave the city who were not voters here.

He also asked the citizens to carry their identity cards with photos, who would stay in the city during the polls.

He also urged the voters to not cast their votes for any mugger or thief in the post of councillor.

All candidates participating in the city polls, their supporters and followers were directed to stop their electioneering before Thursday midnight, Election Commission director Md Israil Hossain told reporters.

All the electioneering regarding the city polls is banned after midnight (12:00am) as per the electoral rules that say the election campaigning must be stopped 32 hours before the voting process (casting votes) commences, he said.

A total of 13 mayoral candidates — seven for the south city and six for the north— and around 7,500 candidates for the councillor positions are contesting the polls.

The north city has 1,318 polling centers for around 30.10 lakh voters and there are 1,150 polling centers for around 24.53 lakh voters in the south city.

The mayoral and councillor candidates had started their electioneering on January 10 following the allocation of election symbols.

The government has issued an 18-hour ban on the movement of all kinds of motorised vehicles from January 31 midnight to 6:00pm on February 1 to facilitate the polling of the elections.

Besides, motorcycles will not be allowed to run from today midnight (January 30) till 6:00am on February 2, said the Election Commission.

Besides, the commision got poor response in the trial vote using electronic voting machines at the polling stations.

Most polling stations saw no voters in the day, said EC officials adding that the mock voting was arranged to make people aware about the use of EVMs.

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