Everything is set to hold elections to Dhaka north and south city corporations with the participation of candidates from the two major political camps – Awami league and BNP – on Saturday.
Balloting in Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) will begin at 8am and continue till 4pm without any break. Electronic Voting Machines or EVMs will be used in all the polling stations.
Thirteen contestants are vying for mayoral posts of the two city corporations.
Six mayoral candidates, including AL nominated Atiqul Islam and BNP’s Tabith Awal, are contesting the DNCC polls while seven contenders, including AL’s Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh and BNP’s Ishraque Hossain, will fight in the Dhaka south.
More than 5.45 million voters -- 30,10,273 in DNCC and 24,53,194 in DSCC -- can cast votes at 2,468 polling stations across the city.
Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda on Friday urged the voters to go to polling stations to exercise their franchise, saying that the elections would be “competitive, free, fair and neutral”.
He said the candidates have been able to conduct their campaign freely without any obstacle. “I hope, tomorrow’s (Saturday’s) elections will be competitive, free, fair and neutral,” he told reporters while visiting the distribution of election materials at Dhaka Residential Model College in the city.
Election materials, including EVMs, were distributed from 16 venues for 2,468 polling stations in the two city corporations on Saturday.
Later in the evening at a pre-election briefing at the Nirbachan Bhaban, the CEC ruled out the fear of irregularity with the EVMs.
He promised arrangements of transparent and neutral elections.
Noting that he visited the distribution of election materials in different areas and spoke to returning officers, Nurul Huda said: “There’s no problem. The election materials have reached polling stations … There’s no fear regarding the elections anywhere.”
The entire elections will be held using EVMs instead of traditional ballot papers and two army personnel will be there at every polling station to provide technical assistance to the voting machines.
A total of 28,868 EVMs will be used in the 14,434 booths.
EC officials said 64.71 percent polling stations are vulnerable – they used the term ‘important’.
An estimated 50,000 law enforcement officials will be deployed alongside magistrates to check polls anomalies, the officials said.
Seventy-five platoons of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), 130 teams of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab), 129 mobile teams comprised of police and APBn members, 43 striking forces and 52 teams of reserve forces have been deployed.
A team of 16 security men will guard every normal polling station, while a group of 18 security men will protect every important (vulnerable) polling station.
A total of 50,706 polling officials – 2,464 presiding officers, 14,434 assistant presiding officers and 28,868 polling officers - will be engaged in conducting the votes in DNCC and DSCC, said EC officials.
In the DNCC, there are 30,10,273 voters – 15,49,567 male and 14,60,706 female – and 1,318 polling stations under 54 wards. As many as 334 candidates are contesting against 73 posts in the DNCC elections.
Six candidates are running for the mayoral post. They are – Atiqul Islam (AL), Tabith Awal (BNP), Ahammad Sazedul Haque (CPB), Shahin Khan (PDP), Fazle Bari Masud (Islami Andolan) and Anisur Rahman Dewan (NPP).
Besides, 251 councillor candidates are running for 54 posts and 77 women for 18 reserved seats.
The DSCC has 24,53,194 voters – 12,93,441 male and 11,59,753 female – and 1,150 polling stations under 75 wards. As many as 416 candidates are contesting against 101 posts.
Seven candidates are running for the mayor’s office. They are – Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh (AL), Ishraque Hossain (BNP), Mohammad Saifuddin (Jatiya Party), Maulana Abdur Rahman (Islami Andolan), Bahrane Sultan Bahar (NPP), Akteruzzaman alias Ayatullah (Bangladesh Congress) and Abdus Samad Sujan (Gano Front).
Besides, 327 councillor candidates are running for 75 posts and 82 women for 25 reserved seats in the DSCC polls.
PM to vote at Dhaka City College
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, also the chief of Awami League, will cast her vote in the DSCC election at the Dhaka City College on Saturday morning.
“The Prime Minister will cast her vote at Dhaka City College centre at Dhanmondi around 8am,” PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim said.
Awami League’s DSCC mayoral candidate Taposh will cast his vote at Dr Malika College in Dhanmondi, while his rival, BNP’s mayoral contender Ishraque Hossain will vote at Shahid Shahjahan Government Primary school in Gopibag area.
AL’s mayoral candidate for the DNCC election Atiqul Islam will exercise his franchise at Nawab Habibullah Model School & College in Uttara Model Town area, while his rival BNP’s mayoral contestant will cast his vote at Manarat Dhaka International School and College in Gulshan area.
The Election Commission announced schedules of the Dhaka city election on December 22 last year. EC rescheduled the polling date on Jan 18.
The last elections to both DNCC and DSCC were held on April 28, 2015.