Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has voted at the beginning of the much-hyped city polls.
Hasina, a voter of the Dhaka South City Corporation, reached the Dhaka City College centre minutes before voting started at 8am on Tuesday.
She was the first to cast her vote at the centre in presence of Dhaka South Returning Officer Mihir Sarwar Morshed.
“I’m elated,” Hasina told reporters. “I’ve cast my vote and exercised my constitutional right.”
The election has drawn much attention as the BNP, which sat out the 2014 national polls, endorsed candidates and party chief Khaleda Zia herself campaigned for the aspirants in Dhaka.
Hasina, chief of the ruling Awami League, has endorsed candidates for three city corporations in Dhaka and Chittagong.
Sayeed Khokon, whose electoral symbol is ‘hilsa’, is contending for the Dhaka South mayor’s office.
The prime minister told reporters that she voted for her party-supported candidates in ‘hilsa’, ‘kite’ and ‘betel leaf’ symbols.
“I hope our party-backed aspirants will win,” she said.
Hasina said she receive reports of people trying to ‘buy votes’ with money for BNP-endorsed candidates.
She hoped the polls would be peaceful. “We’ll do whatever it takes to ensure people’s safety if there’s any violence.”
About the BNP’s announcement to hit the streets if the polling is not ‘fair’, the Awami League chief said, “Why won’t they accept the people’s mandate?”
“Their agitation only results in killing people,” she said.
More than 150 people died, mostly in arson, since January when the party enforced a blockade demanding a snap election.
Last mayors to Chittagong and undivided Dhaka city corporations were endorsed by the BNP.
The Awami League chief said her party would accept the results whatever they may be.
“We’ll certainly accept the people’s mandate as we did before,” Hasina said.