All eyes on Ivy-Sakhawat race for Narayanganj mayor's post
Suliman Niloy, Masum Billah, Majibul Haque Polash, bdnews24.com
Published: 2016-12-22 04:31:22.0 BdST Updated: 2016-12-22 04:38:10.0 BdST
Nearly 475,000 voters of Narayanganj City are waiting to give their mandate on Thursday – whether Selina Hayat Ivy will continue in her office, or make way for Sakhawat Hossain Khan.
Awami League leader Ivy has been in charge of the city authorities as the municipality chairman and then as the mayor for 13 years without the party's directs backing.
Now she is seeking for a re-election, this time with the ruling party's 'boat' symbol.
Her chief rival Sakhawat is running for a public office for the first time and is calling for a change of guard with the BNP's 'paddy sheaf' symbol.
The election to the local government body has already turned into a prestige fight between the two main political parties.
The Awami League leaders have said Ivy's victory will reflect the people's support for the government.
The BNP, confident of a 'win over the government', has repeatedly announced that it will not boycott the elections this time unlike previous polls.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina put trust in Ivy despite the candidate's longstanding dispute with Awami League MP Shamim Osman. He has announced support for Ivy following Hasina's orders this time.
The ruling party's General Secretary Obaidul Quader thinks she will win the election as the government's development work and the party's organising capabilities will coupled with her popularity will launch her into office again.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has hoped a 'silent vote revolution' for 'paddy sheaf' will take place.
The party's Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi has said Sakjawat will not pull out from the race until the end, brushing aside rumours that it is doing so again like the last elections in 2011.
He has urged the voters not to pay any heed to such rumours. Sakhawat is a 'strong' candidate, he says.
Ivy has pledged to finish her remaining development job if she wins while Sakhawat promises to free the port city of garbage and terrorism and continue on Ivy's work.
Police DIG (Dhaka range) SM Mahfuzul Haque Nuruzzaman has said the law-enforcing agencies see no possibility of disorder during Narayananj polls.
Narayanganj City Corporation Election 2016:
>> The voting will be held from 8am to 4pm on Thursday.
>> The number of voter is 474,931, including 235,269 women.
>> They will elect one mayor, a councillor for each of 27 wards, and nine women councillors.
>> Over 1.4 million ballot papers have been printed.
>> The voters will cast their ballots at 1,304 booths in 174 polling stations.
>> Total 9,500 members of the law-enforcing agencies will maintain security.
Since its demand for army deployment was rejected, the BNP is expressing concern that the government may hijack the people's mandate through rigging votes with help of the Election Commission - 'a government subordinate' in the party’s words.
Observers are also satisfied with the festive electoral ambiance. They hope it will continue until the end.
Returning Officer Nuruzzaman Talukder said the polls officials were ready to hold the election.
"We are laying emphasis on 137 centres for security reasons. All sorts of disorder will be firmly dealt with," he said.
RAB's dog and bomb disposal squads were deployed on Wednesday morning. Checkposts have been set up at key points of the city.
Besides police and Border Guard Bangladesh, a 600-member RAB team has been called in as a strike force.
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