Elections to Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) are going to be held today (Tuesday) amidst a contrast of festivity and fear.
Although the Election Commission (EC) has taken up all possible security measures to ensure smooth polling, some stray incidents of attacks and counter attacks among supporters of contesting candidates in Dhaka and Chittagong have led to a sort of tension among the voters.
A number of clashes took place in the last several days centring campaign for the city corporation elections.
BNP activists allegedly attacked Bikalpadhara Bangladesh-backed mayoral candidate Mahi B Chowdhury in Tejgaon area of the capital at the midnight of Saturday while some Awami League activists allegedly swooped on campaigners of mayoral candidate Abdullah Al Kafee at Kalyanpur at around 4pm on Sunday. In Chittagong, Mayor Candidate M Manjur Alam and his supporters came under attacks by their opponents.
However, people are expected to take part in the vote with enthusiasm as the polling starts at 8am and continue till 4pm without any break. Electioneering started from April 7 and ended on Sunday midnight without any major untoward incidents. Election materials including ballot papers have already reached the polling centres, as the EC finalised its preparations. The government declared a general holiday today in Dhaka and Chittagong City Corporations so that all voters can exercise their voting rights.
As part of the EC arrangements, around 50,000 polling agents will perform their duties in the three city corporations on the election-day. Four magistrates remain present at each of the 143 wards in three cities -57 in DSCC, 36 in DNCC and 41 in CCC - to conduct mobile courts until Wednesday.
A total of 23, 45,374 voters including 11, 20, 673 female voters will cast their votes for the DNCC polls, while 1870,753 including 8, 61, 467 females for the DSCC and 18, 13449 voters including 8, 76, 396 females will vote for the CCC polls.
Forty-eight candidates are contesting for three mayoral posts while 1,188 candidates for 179 general and reserved ward councillors in Dhaka and Chittagong city corporations.
"All preparations have already been completed to hold free, fair and acceptable elections to the three city corporations in Dhaka and Chittagong," said Election Commissioner Md. Shah Nawaz.
Calling upon the voters to cast their votes without any fear, he also said, "Law enforcers have already been deployed three to four times higher in comparison with other elections to hold the polls in a peaceful and festive manner."
Three-tier security measures have been taken in Dhaka and Chittagong city corporations with deployment of 80,000 law-enforcers including the Ansar, police, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), coastguard, and Border Guard Bangladesh (BBG)and keeping the army stand-by as a striking force to hold the elections peacefully.
Elaborating on the security arrangements, Secretary to the Election Commission (EC) Secretariat Sirajul Islam said, "Some 22 law enforcers will guard a general polling centres and 24 at risky polling centres to ensure overall security of the polling centres."
Some 62,000 law enforcers will be deployed at 2,705 polling centres in Dhaka and Chittagong city corporations. Police have identified 1,429 out of 1,982 polling centres as vulnerable in the capital while 591 out of 719 in Chittagong.
A ban has been imposed on plying of motorcycle from April 25 and other motor vehicles from 6am tomorrow to 8 in the following morning in three city corporation areas to make the security measures foolproof. But, the motor vehicles of the candidates, administration, and the persons getting permission from the concerned authorities will remain out of the purview of the ban. The ban will not be effective on highways.
A total of 49,333 officers have been appointed as presiding officers, assistant presiding officers, and polling officers. Of them, 1,093 presiding officers, 5,892 assistant presiding officers and 11,784 polling officers would work for DNCC , 889 presiding officers, 4,746 assistant presiding officers and 9,492 polling officers for DSCC and 719 presiding officers, 4,906 assistant presiding officers and 9,812 polling officers for CCC polls.
Besides, 45 officers have so far been appointed to observe secretly the polling centres.
In the DNCC, Awami League-backed candidate Annisul Huq is vying for the post of mayor with the symbol 'table-watch', while BNP-backed candidate Tabith Awal with 'bus'.
Jatiya Party-backed candidate Bahauddin Ahmed Bablu is contesting with 'spindle', while Mahi B Chowdhury of Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh with 'eagle', Junaid Saki of Gonosonghoti Andolon with 'telescope',CPB-backed Abdullah Al Kafi Ratan with 'elephant', JSD candidate Nader Chowdhury with 'peacock', Md Shamsul Alam Chowdhury with 'leopard', AYM Qumrul Islam with 'cricket bat', Kazi Md Shahiduallh with 'hilsa fish', Moazzem Hossain Khan Majlish with 'flask', Chowdury Irad Ahmed Siddique with 'gourd', Md Anisuzzaman Khokon with 'dish antenna', Md Jaman Bhuiyan with 'table', Sheikh Shahiduzzaman with 'firebox' and Sheikh Md Fazle Bari Maswood with 'orange' are also in DNCC mayoral race.
In the DSCC, AL-supported Syed Khokon is in the mayoral race with 'hilsa fish', while BNP-blessed candidate Mirza Abbas is in the contest with 'mug' as election symbol. Jatiya Party-backed candidate Saifuddin Ahmed Milon with election symbol 'Sofa', Islami Andolon of Charmonai-backed Abdur Rahman with 'flask', BNP's international affairs secretary Dr Asaduzzaman Ripon with 'orange', former Awami League MP Golam Maula Roni with 'ring', CPB-BSD-backed Bazlul Rashid Feroz with 'table', JSD (Inu) candidate Abdul Khaleq with 'cake', Bharatia Andolon candidate Baharane Sultan Bahar with 'shirt', journalist Dilip Badhra with 'elephant', journalist Ataullah with 'gourd', Advocate Ayub Hossain with 'ship', ASM Akram with 'cricket bat' and Shahidul Islam with 'bus' are also mayor candidates for the DSCC.
In the CCC, BNP-backed mayoral candidate M Manjur Alam is in the race with 'orange' symbol, while Awami League-backed candidate AJM Nasir Uddin is running with 'elephant' symbol. Besides, Jatiya Party-backed Solaiman Alam Sheth with 'dish antenna', Arif Moinuddin of BNF with 'bus', Mujibul Haq Shukkur of Islamic Front with 'peacock' and Shafiul Alam of JSD with hilsha fish are in the mayoral race.
The last election to undivided Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) was held on April 25 in 2002. Tenure of the city corporation ended on May 14 in 2011.
Previous mayor BNP leader Sadek Hossain Khoka got four additional years as mayor due to delay in holding elections for various complications.
The DCC was divided into two parts, Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) on November 30 in 2011 aiming to deliver better services to the city dwellers.
Since then the city corporations were run by administrators. DNCC and DSCC are going to get their elected mayors through today's elections after eight years. The last election to Chittagong City Corporation was held on June 17 in 2010.