Flouting the electoral code of conduct, mayor candidates from both the ruling Awami League and the BNP submitted their nomination papers with processions yesterday.
The contenders along with their party men and supporters were seen thronging near the offices of the returning officers.
Asked about the rules violation, the mayor candidates blamed the councillor candidates for the crowd.
A total of 934 mayor and councillor candidates have filed nomination papers for the Dhaka north and south city corporation polls to be held on January 30.
Among the eight mayor candidates in the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), seven have submitted their nomination papers, while seven out of the 10 filed theirs for the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) mayor post.
AL candidates Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh and M Atiqul Islam are contesting for the mayor post in the DSCC and the DNCC respectively. Ishraque Hossain and Tabith Awal are the BNP’s contenders in the two city corporations.
Since 10:00am yesterday, hundreds of AL supporters and activists started gathering in front of a temporary office of the DSCC polls’ returning officer, set up at Sadeque Hossain Khoka Community Centre in Gopibagh
There, they brought out brief processions and chanted party slogans.
Around 12:15pm when Taposh arrived in an SUV — accompanied by AL presidium members Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Abdur Rahman, Jubo league Chairman Sheikh Fazle Shams Parash and lawmaker Mahbubul Alam Hanif in three other sports utility vehicles — the road in front of the community centre was crowded with party men.
As the cars approached, the AL men began chanting slogans.
Taposh and other leaders struggled to walk into the RO’s office amid the crowd.
Surrounded by the top AL leaders and other activists, Taposh then submitted his nomination paper.
Any kind of procession or showdown is prohibited during the submission of nomination papers and candidates are not allowed to be accompanied by more than five people, according to the electoral rules.
Asked about breaching the rules, Taposh said, “Many councillors along with their supporters have come here to submit nomination papers. That’s why the crowd was created.”
Ishraque along with BNP leaders Mirza Abbas, Afroza Abbas and Abdus Salam and a host of activists and supporters came to the RO office around 2:40pm.
Asked, he told reporters that he did not break any code of conduct. “I’m being accompanied by Mirza Abbas, Afroza Abbas, Abdus Salam and my brother. Only five persons have come with me.”
“The rest are locals and councillors who came here for their own purpose,” he added.
Returning Officer Abdul Baten said candidates were submitting nomination papers in a festive mood.
Asked about the violation, he said the magistrate would look into the matter.
“Councillors are submitting their nomination papers. Whenever a heavyweight candidate comes, they gather around the candidate,” he said.
“We’ve kept them under strict vigilance,” Baten added.
Blocking the main road in front of the RO’s office at the Election Training Institute in the capital’s Agargaon, several hundred AL leaders and activists chanted party slogans surrounding Atiq, who went to submit his nomination papers.
Traffic movement came to a halt on the road. A vehicle carrying an election commissioner also got stuck there.
At one point, Atiq, who was accompanied by Dhaka North Awami League President Sheikh Bazlur Rahman, General Secretary SA Mannan, FBCCI President Sheikh Fazle Fahim, Bangladesh Football Federation President Kazi Salauddin and former BGMEA president Siddiqur Rahman, requested the party men to stop shouting slogans.
Atiq submitted the nomination papers to Abul Kashem, RO of the DNCC election.
Sources said a police van was seen in front of Atiq’s motorcade while he left his residence for the RO office. There was around 30 cars and microbuses in the motorcade. The vehicles, however, did not come near the RO’s office.
Talking to reporters later, Atiq, claimed there was no police van in front of his car.
Asked about the violation of the electoral code of conduct, he said, “I came to the returning officer’s office with five people. There was no procession outside. When they were shouting slogans, I stopped them.”
He also said AL-backed councillor candidates came to the RO office to submit their nomination papers, which created the crowd.
Asked about the BNP’s opinion against the use of EVMs in the city corporation polls, he said, ”The whole world was opting to use technology. We’re not out of it. The election will be free and fair if EVMs are used.”
BNP mayoral candidate for the DNCC also violated the electoral code of conduct as more than five people were with him while he entered the RO’s office.
BNP standing committee members Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, Iqbal Hasan Mahmud, were among those accompanying Tabith.
Asked, Tabith claimed he followed the electoral code of conduct and was accompanied by only five persons.
Talking to reporters later, he said “Although we have no confidence in the Election Commission, the administration and the law enforcement agencies, we are participating in this election keeping confidence in people.”
He said they were in doubt whether people would be able to cast their vote in a fearless atmosphere.
The DNCC RO said both the AL and the BNP candidates submitted nomination papers following the code of conduct.
Responding to a query that the vehicle of an election commissioner remained stuck on the road due to the “showdown” by the AL candidate, he said although a candidate brought five people with him, soon the number reached to around 5,000.
As many as 2,260 mayoral and councillor aspirants had collected nomination forms to take part in the polls.
General councillor aspirants will contest in 75 wards in the DSCC. Also, there are 25 seats reserved for women councillors.
In DNCC, the number of general councillor posts is 54 and that reserve posts 18.
Source: New Age.