The candidates backed by the BNP-led alliance were unofficially declared elected mayors of the cities of Rajshahi, Khulna, Barisal and Sylhet that went to polls on Saturday in a peaceful atmosphere and monitored by local and foreign observers.
Huge turnout marked the four city corporation polls with voters casting their ballot in a festive mood.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party-backed mayoral candidate Moniruzzaman Moni of Khulna, Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul of Rajshahi, Ariful Haque Chowdhury of Sylhet and Ahsan Habib Kamal of Barisal won the elections by huge margins against their respective rivals, also the outgoing mayors, supported by the Awami League-led alliance.
In Khulna, Moni was unofficially declared the mayor-elect polling 1,80,093 votes while his nearest rival Talukder Abdul Khaleque received 1,19,422 votes in all the 288 centres. Ershad-led Jatiya Party backed Shafiqul Islam Modhu finished a distant third polling 3,073 votes.
Bulbul polled 1,31,769 votes while his nearest rival AHM Khairuzzaman Liton received 83,389 votes in 136 out of 137 centres in Rajshahi. The returning officer unofficially declared Bulbul the mayor-elect as the results of the remaining one polling centre, having around 2,000 votes, were withheld.
In Sylhet, Ariful polled 1,07,330 votes while his nearest rival Badruddin Ahmed Kamran received 72,173 votes in all the 120 centres. The other candidate Salah Uddin Rimon polled 1,022 votes.
In Barisal, Kamal polled 83,751 votes while 66,741 votes were cast in favour of his nearest rival Shawkat Hossain Hiron in all the 100 centres. The other candidate, Mahmudur Haque Khan Mamun, also a local Juba League leader, got 1,807 votes.
As the unofficial results were declared, the supporters of the mayor-elects burst into jubilation.
No major incidents of violence were reported from anywhere during the polling that began at 8:00am and continued uninterrupted till 4:00pm. The government had announced a public holiday in the polling areas for Saturday.
As many as 671 observers – 476 local and 195 foreign – watched the elections to the four city corporations, according to official sources in the Election Commission.
An Islami Shasantantra Andolan activist, Alam Sarder, 45, died of a heart attack after landing in a hospital in Khulna after Rapid Action Battalion and other law enforcers had chased about 25 Islamist activists who had been trying to bring out a procession in violation of electoral code near the Crescent Jute Mills Secondary School centre at about 10:30am.
Nine people were arrested on the spot, said Khulna Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Mohammad Jainuddin.
Lutfunessa, an assistant presiding officer of Khasdabir Government Primary School polling centre in Sylhet was withdrawn midway into the polling for giving two mayoral ballot papers to a voter ‘by mistake’.
The voting at Government Rupatali Primary School centre in Barisal was suspended for an hour following clashes between supporters of the ruling- and opposition-backed mayoral candidates. The law enforcers promptly intervened and polling resumed around 3:00pm.
Barisal city BNP president and lawmaker Mojibur Rahman Sarwar, after visiting the spot said BNP national committee member Abul Hossain Khan was injured by the activists of Awami League after he protested against ‘violation of election code of conduct’.
Though the city corporation elections were non-partisan according to laws, both the ruling and opposition alliances threw their weights behind their respective choices in the polls which were significant before the national elections.
The BNP-led alliance accused the government of having plotted to change the election results, but the ruling alliance rejected the allegations saying the polls were free, fair and peaceful.
The chief election commissioner, Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad, at a news briefing in its office in Dhaka said the city corporation elections were free, fair and peaceful barring a few isolated incidents.
From early morning, voters of the four cities began queuing in front of the polling centres and casting their votes for 12 candidates against four mayoral positions, 547 candidates for 118 positions of general councillors and 191 candidates for 39 positions of councillors reserved for women.
According to the offices of the returning officers in Rajshahi and Sylhet, around 75 per cent voters had cast their votes. No information of the turnout was received from the returning officers in Barisal and Khulna.
There are 2,86,917 registered voters in Rajshahi city corporation area while the number is 4,40,566 in Khulna, 2,11,257 in Barisal, and 2,91,046 in Sylhet.
All 12 candidates who vied for the four mayoral posts, expressed satisfaction with the polling environment, though BNP-led candidates in Barisal and Khulna alleged that law enforcers had harassed their polling agents in a few centres.
More than 25,000 law enforcers, including Border Guard Bangladesh and Rapid Action Battalion, were deployed to maintain law and order in the four cities.
The commission used electronic voting machines in one ward of each of the four cities.
All the mayor-elects, in their instant reactions after the announcement of the unofficial results, vowed to ‘serve’ the people of their respective cities and ‘fight’ corruption and politicisation.
The KCC mayor-elect, Moniruzzaman Moni, also said that the opposition alliance had been in a movement on the issue of ‘caretaker government’ and the results of the elections to the four city corporations were the ‘verdict’ of the people supporting the movement.
The Barisal mayor-elect, Ahsan Habib Kamal, termed his win as the ‘victory of the people’ and said that had there been no fear of terror, the margin would have been wider.
Source: New Age