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All eyes glued to Gazipur

Staff Reporter:

The much-talked-about polls to Gazipur City Corporation (GCC) will be held Thursday with the Election Commission (EC) pledging to present a free, fair and neutral election.

With barely seven months left for the general election, the GCC polls will be the acid test for both the EC and government to prove their credibility and sincerity in holding polls in a free, fair and impartial manner.

The voting will begin at 8:00am with electronic voting machines (EVMs) and continue till 4:00pm without any break amid tight security.
The fight for the mayoral post will be mainly between Awami League candidate Azmat Ullah Khan and independent candidate Zayeda Khatun, mother of former GCC Mayor Zahangir Alam.

Besides, independent candidate Sarker Shahnur Islam Roni and Islami Andolan Bangladesh’s contestant Gazi Ataur Rahman are expected to put a tough challenge.

A total of eight aspirants are vying for the mayoral post while 246 for general councillor posts and 79 for reserved councillor posts.

A total of 1,179,476 voters — 592,762 males, 586,696 females and 18 transgenders — are eligible to exercise their franchise in the election.

Through the polls, the GCC voters will choose their mayor who will look after the city, located on the outskirts of the capital city of Dhaka, for the next five years.

The election will be the acid test for both the EC and government to regain the confidence of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to participate in the next parliamentary polls.
BNP has already made it clear that it will not participate in any election under the incumbent EC and government.

Talking to reporters ahead of the GCC polls, Election Commissioner Rashida Sultana on Wednesday said they want a free, fair and impartial election with the participation of voters.

“Our mission is to hold a fair election. There’s no alternative to it. We’ll do it and are putting effort into it,” she said, urging the voters to go to polling centres without any fear.

The government has committed to providing all sorts of cooperation to the EC for holding the election in a free, fair and neutral manner.

Following a number of parliamentary and local body polls boycotted by major opposition BNP and low turnout of voters in those elections, the prime aim of the EC will be to regain public confidence in the voting system by ensuring a free, fair and neutral election and increasing the voter turnout.

The EC has taken all necessary measures for smoothly holding the election. It has marked 351 out of total 480 polling centres as risky.

Tight security arrangements have been put in place to maintain the law and order, and polling stations have been equipped with necessary facilities so that voters can cast their vote without any hassle.

A total of 13,000 law enforcers will be engaged to maintain the law and order during the polling and at least 20-22 members of law enforcement agencies will perform duty at each centre, said Gazipur Metropolitan Police (GMP) Commissioner Molla Nazrul Islam.

Besides, 20 platoons of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) have been deployed in the election area alongside 30 teams of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and Aansar, said Returning Officer Faridul Islam.

Mobile teams will be there in 57 wards while 19 striking forces, led by 19 magistrates, will remain vigilant at the polling centres.

The EVMs and all necessary materials have been sent to all polling centres and troubleshooting officers will be available to address any technical glitches.

The authorities have installed CCTV cameras in all the centres through which the EC will monitor the election from its Secretariat in the capital.

The candidates conducted electioneering over the past few weeks seeking votes with various promises.

Meanwhile, the EC has scrapped the candidacy of councillor candidate Azizur Rahman after finding him guilty of intimidating voters.

“After reviewing the relevant materials, including video clips, obtained from various media, investigation report sent by the returning officer and his (Azizur’s) written apology after confessing to the guilt, the commission doesn’t think the apology is acceptable for the sake of fair and peaceful election,” reads a press release issued by the EC on Wednesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, the EC served a show cause notice to Azizur, president of Pubail Thana Awami League and councillor candidate from ward 40, on charge of intimidating voters during his campaign speech.

In a letter signed by EC Assistant Director (Public Relations) Ashadul Haque, Azizur was asked to appear before the EC Secretariat on Wednesday to give an explanation.

According to the letter, Azizur in a procession in Pubail on Monday said, “We won’t allow anyone else other than voters of the Boat symbol to come to the polling stations.”

Azizur’s statement came to the attention of the EC which later asked the returning officer to look into the matter, the letter added.

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