Awami League’s Ivy wins second straight term as Narayanganj City mayor
Suliman Niloy, Masum Billah, Majibul Haque Polash, from Narayanganj bdnews24.com
Published: 2016-12-22 23:49:16.0 BdST Updated: 2016-12-23 04:18:11.0 BdST
The Awami League’s Selina Hayat Ivy has run out comfortable winner against her main challenger, the BNP’s Sakhawat Hossain Khan in the keenly watched Narayanganj City Corporation election.
The resounding victory in the first-ever civic election held Thursday on party lines propelled the hugely popular politician of the port city into her second successive term as mayor.
Ivy, who has been representing Narayanganj City for 13 years, earlier as chairperson when it was a municipality, beat Sakhawat by a margin of 79,568 votes, according to unofficial results.
Returning Officer Md Nuruzzaman Talukder announced the results at the polls control room at Narayanganj Club around 11:30pm.
Ivy bagged 175,611 votes while Sakhawat fared 96,044 votes at the 174 polling centres.
"I am dedicating this victory to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Liberation War martyrs," Ivy told the media in front of her house at Deobhog in reaction to the win.
"I want to keep those, who have helped me win, with me. I also want to maintain the continuity of development," she added.
When her supporters started to celebrate around 10pm, over an hour before the announcement, as there were clear indications that Ivy was winning, Sakhawat told reporters that the election was relatively free though there were 'anomalies' in the counting of votes.
Ivy has polled 5,000 votes fewer than she did in the last election held in 2011 when she defeated heavyweight AKM Shamim Osman who was backed by the central leaders of the Awami League. The difference then was over 100,000 votes.
Her 'ink-pot and pen' symbol managed 180,048 votes at the time, making her the first female mayor of the country.
The voter turnout, however, has also shrunken by around 7 percentage points from last election's 69.92 percent.
Shamim Osman, an MP from Narayanganj now, had earlier announced his support for Ivy on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's orders.
Casting his vote on Thursday, he held the ballot paper up to show - thus violating electoral code of conduct - that he voted for 'boat'.
He termed Ivy 'Chhoto Bon' (younger sister) again and hoped that she would keep the others from the Awami League at her side.
A total of 474,931 voters are registered in Narayanganj, of whom 239,662 are men and 235,269 women.
One mayor seat, nine reserved women councillor seats and 27 ward councillor seats were up for grabs.
The returning officer announced the results at the control room in the presence of the representatives of the candidates.
Traffic was blocked from the city’s Chasharha intersection to the Narayanganj Club. Security personnel stood guard outside the control room.
Concerns were high over the election to Narayanganj after violence and disorder had marred the elections to the union councils, Upazilas, and municipalities.
Two-thirds of the polling stations were found to be vulnerable in the city that came into national discussion in recent years for the sensational seven murders.
But no anxiety was seen among the voters on the polling day. The candidates also did not make allegations galore unlike in previous elections.
During the voting amid heightened security at the 174 polling stations, only three persons were fined Tk 8,000 each by mobile court for violating electoral code of conduct.
But there was no violence that could have forced the Election Commission to postpone voting at any centre.
The election observers said five electoral factors - the candidates, political parties, the voters, law-enforcing agencies, and the government's help - worked together, leading to the free and fair election.
When the counting was underway, Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad, too, said the voting was peaceful because of the cooperation of all of those related to the voting.
But BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said at a press conference at the party's headquarters in Dhaka that the polls 'appeared to be fine, but they had concerns that the election would be 'engineered'.
During the voting, Sakhawat only complained about low turnout. He said he thought many could not come to the polling centres ‘on being influenced'.
Later, when the result was almost clear, he brought the allegation of 'anomalies' in vote counting.
Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said, "It was Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's order to keep Narayanganj City Corporation elections free and fair. And that's how the polls have been held."
While announcing the results, Returning Officer Talukder said, "It's an exceptionally good election. It is being described as a model election for the rest of the country."
"According to our records, this election experienced the least violation of electoral code of conduct in Bangladesh's history. The election was free, fair and festive," he added.
Islami Andolan Bangladesh candidate Mufti Masum Billah got 13,914 votes, third highest after Ivy and Sakhawat.
Biplabi Workers Party's Mahbubur Rahman polled 674 votes while Islami Oikya Jote's Mufti Ezhaarul Haque drew 910 votes.
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