Festive campaign closure raises hopes of a better Narayanganj City election
Suliman Niloy, Masum Billah, Mazibul Haque Polash, from Narayanganj bdnews24.com
Published: 2016-12-21 03:33:01.0 BdST Updated: 2016-12-21 04:50:36.0 BdST
The campaign for Narayanganj City Corporation elections has come to a close without hiccups but the mayoral aspirants of the two main political parties have spoken of the concerns over the fairness of the balloting.
The law-enforcing agencies have braced for stringent security measures ahead of the voting scheduled for Thursday.
The Election Commission has also tried to reassure the people that it will hold fair elections 'at any cost'.
But ruling Awami League candidate Selina Hayat Ivy and her main rival BNP’s Sakhawat Hossain Khan have demanded that the peaceful environment be maintained until the end.
Ivy, who is seeking a re-election, has fears that a 'third party' may try to create disorder. She has urged the EC and the security agencies to act without bias.
Sakhawat has also urged them to deliver on their pledges.
The Awami League ticket has brought new dimension of festivity to the campaign of Ivy, who is also popular outside the party.
Lawyer Sakhawat, much known for representing the plaintiff of the sensational seven-murder case, had the BNP central leaders at his side during the election canvassing.
The two rivals, along with other mayoral candidates, have promised to work towards having free and fair elections.
Ivy has promised to have sweets with Sakhawat in the morning after the voting, not withstanding the results.
Her chief opponent, on the other hand, has pledged to take forward development work done by Ivy, if he wins.
Referring to the 'friendly' ambiance in Narayanganj, National Election Observation Council (Janipop) Chairman Professor Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah has said the mindset of the rival candidates and the voters have changed in Narayanganj City.
"There are signs of a fair election now," he told bdnews24.com on Tuesday.
"I've also seen positive attitude in the two main parties. I hope this election will be better than any other previous elections," he added.
Abdul Alim, a director of Election Working Group (EWG), a platform of the election observation groups, is happy with the electoral environment.
"National leaders of the two big parties went to the campaign. There was no hindrance or attack. I haven't seen anything negative or something arousing concern in the campaign," he said.
"It can be said that a good election is going to be held by the end of the year," he added.
The campaign ended on Tuesday midnight with the candidates busy solociting votes at the last minute.
After Tuesday's campaign, Ivy told reporters: "I am not brushing aside any fear. It's natural for a contestant to have concerns."
She, however, did not make it clear what her concerns are. Earlier, during discussion with the EC, she had feared that 'a third party' may try to create disorder.
Many in Narayanganj think she referred to Awami League MP AKM Shamim Osman when she said 'a third party'.
Ivy became first mayor of Narayanganj City Corporation by beating Shamim in 2011.
The rivalry between their families go back to the days when Ivy's father Ali Ahmed Chunka was elected Narayanganj Municipality chairman from Osman family's rival faction in the Awami League in 1974.
Ivy hopes she will get the people's mandate again. "If the EC remains impartial and the law-enforcing agencies get active, the elections will be fair. But they will have to be active," she said.
She started her campaign at Deobhog and finished at Shaheednagar on Tuesday. Her supporters also took out a huge procession, with a boat, the Awami League's electoral symbol, at the head in Chasharhha in the afternoon.
Sakhawat, unwilling to pull out of the race unlike Taimur Alam Khandaker, the BNP-backed candidate in 2011, has also sounded concerns.
"I've demanded deployment of army to help police and RAB. But the government has said it wants the regular forces because this is an election to only one city corporation," he said.
He is concerned that the polls officials and the law-enforcing agencies may work for the ruling party candidate.
His campaign on Tuesday started at Paikparha and ended at Dhopaparha. He and his supporters carried the BNP's electoral symbol 'paddy sheaf' during the campaign.
A BNP delegation met Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad in Dhaka earlier in the day. They urged him to present fair polls as he is nearing the end of his tenure.
The BNP has been terming the incumbent EC ‘subservient to the government’.
The party stayed out of the 10th parliamentary elections and several local government elections, including those to Dhaka and Chittagong City corporations.
The EC and the security agencies have sought to reassure the candidates that there will be no irregularities during the NCC polls.
Police DIG (Dhaka range) Mahfuzul Haque Nuruzzaman has said the law enforcers have been ordered to open fire whenever they see any incident of bids to take control of a polling station or snatch ballot boxes.
The law enforcers, who will not follow the order, will face action, he said.
Returning Officer Nuruzzaman Talukder told bdnews24.com: "We have taken every possible step to hold a free and fair election, and to ensure that the voters can go to the polling stations to cast their ballots without any obstacle."
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