THREE CITY POLLS Aspirants launch campaigns

Left, Awami League-supported candidate in Dhaka North City Corporation mayoral race Annisul Huq shakes hands with Ganasanghati Andolan candidate for same post Zonayed Saki at martyred intellectuals’ memorial at Mirpur on Tuesday. Awami League-supported mayor candidate in Dhaka South City Corporation poll Sayeed Khokan begins electioneering on Tuesday. — New Age photo

Mayoral and councillor aspirants in the three city corporation elections in Dhaka and Chittagong on Tuesday launched electioneering although their candidatures have yet to be finalised and election symbols allocated.
However, mayoral and councillor aspirants backed by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led opposition were not seen carrying out campaigns.
The rule 4 of the Electoral Code of Conduct stipulates that the candidates would be able to launch campaigns 21 days before the polls slated for April 28 and accordingly the candidates can start electioneering on April 7, although the polls symbols are scheduled to be distributed on April 10.
Some of the candidates, the ruling Awami League-supported aspirants in particular, carried out election campaigns shortly after the announcement of election schedule, flouting electoral code of conduct.
Awami League-backed mayoral aspirant Sayeed Khokon, also the son of former mayor Mohammad Hanif, launched his campaign at the entrance to the Mayor Mohammad Hanif Flyover at Jatrabari.
Then he went to Chankharpool area for campaign with Dhaka Mahanagar AL acting president MA Aziz and launched his election camp on Bangabandhu Avenue at 3:00pm.
Khokon, who is running for the Dhaka South mayor, promised to ‘dedicate’ his life for the well-being of the city dwellers if he was elected.
Mirza Abbas and Asaduzzaman Ripon – Bangladesh Nationalist Party leaders and mayoral aspirants for Dhaka South city – have yet to start electioneering.
Abdus Salam Azad, the lawyer for Mirza Abbas, also BNP standing committee member, claimed that the latter could not launch electioneering for fear of arrest as there were many cases filed against him and he was yet to get bail.
BNP’s international affairs secretary Asaduzzaman Ripon, also a mayoral aspirant for Dhaka South city, said that he would start campaign after allocation of symbols.
Another mayoral aspirant for Dhaka South, Golam Mawla Roni, also a former Awami League lawmaker, said he had begun campaign with prayers on the High Court shrine premises.
Saifuddin Ahmed Milon, the Jatiya Party-supported mayoral aspirant for Dhaka South, said he had launched his electoral campaigns in Lalbagh area after seeking the blessings of his mother.
AL-backed Annisul Huq, a frontrunner in the mayoral election in Dhaka North, launched electioneering after offering prayers at his mother’s graveside at Banani. Later, he visited the National Memorial at Savar, Mirpur Martyred Intellectuals’ Graveyard, Rayer Bazar Martyred Intellectuals’ Graveyard and finally place a wreath at the portrait of the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Bangabandhu Museum at Dhanmondi.
Mayoral aspirant Mahi B Chowdhury, also Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh joint secretary general, would launch electioneering through a press conference today.
Ganasanghati Andolan’s chief coordinator Zonayed Saki, a mayoral aspirant for Dhaka North, launched his campaigns after placing wreaths at Mirpur Martyred Intellectuals’ Graveyard. Then, he along with his party activists conducted mass contact at Mirpur and Baunia.
Mayoral aspirant Kafee Ratan, also a central leader of the Communist Party of Bangladesh, began his campaign after placing wreaths at the Martyred Intellectuals’ Graveyard at Rayer Bazar.
Dhaka North mayoral aspirant Bobby Hajjaj, also a former adviser to Jatiya Party chairman HM Ershad, would launch campaign by offering prayer at the Shah Ali shrine at Mirpur today.
Although the BNP has almost finalised its decision to back Mirza Abbas for the Dhaka South mayor, it is yet to finalise its choice for Dhaka North following the cancellation of the nomination of BNP leader Abdul Awal Mintoo.
The election appellate authority yesterday rejected an appeal challenging Mintoo’s son Tabith Awal’s mayoral candidature, clearing the way for his being a candidate.
BNP insiders said party chairperson Khaleda Zia might pick either Mahi B Chowdhury or Tabith Awal.
Besides, almost all councillor aspirants have launched electioneering by conducting mass contacts in their respective wards although they are yet to get green light from their respective parties as to who would eventually contest the polls as there are several aspirants from a single party who have submitted nomination papers.
Election commissioner Shah Nawaz, meanwhile, asked all the candidates to carry out their electioneering following electoral code and conduct and warned that the commission would not spare anyone violating the electoral codes.
He denied allegations that the returning officers remained indifferent to the violation of the electoral code, saying, ‘The returning officers rather have taken stern action against some violations.’
‘The Election Commission will not tolerate any kind of deviation from electoral code of conduct,’ Shah Nawaz said.
He said the returning officers had been given ‘all legal authority’ to take action against anyone who would violate the electoral code of conducts no matter whoever he might be.
Over 1,500 candidates are expected to contest the three civic polls in Dhaka and Chittagong.
A total of 23,45,374 people, 12,24,701 of them men and 11,20,673  women,  are eligible to vote in the Dhaka North city corporation polls. The commission has planned to set up 5,892 booths in 1,093 polling stations in 36 wards in Dhaka North.
The Dhaka South city has a total of 18,70,753 voters  with 10,09,286 men and 8,61,467 women for which the commission has set up 4,746 booths in 889 polling stations in 57 wards.
The Chittagong city corporation has a total of 18,13,449 voters  with 9,37,053 men and 8,76,396 women for which the commission has set up 4,906 booths in 719 polling stations in 41 wards.
There are a total of 12 wards reserved for woman councilors in the Dhaka north corporation, 19 in the south city corporation and 14 in the Chittagong city corporation.

Source: New Age

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