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1 February, 2020 01:26:17 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 1 February, 2020 11:08:59 AM

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All-EVM elections to DNCC, DSCC today

Staff Reporter, Dhaka
All-EVM elections to DNCC, DSCC today

The Election Commission is all set to hold the first ever all-EVM (electronic voting machine) elections to Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) with the mayoral candidates of ruling Awami League confident of securing landslide victories while BNP candidates expressing doubts over fair polls through EVMs.

The Election Commission (EC), however, has assured that the polls would be held in a free, fair and peaceful manner under stringent security, and has urged the residents of the capital to go to polling centres to cast votes. A total of 54,63,467 voters are set to exercise their franchise at 2,468 polling centers under DNCC and DSCC.

The EC has prepared approximately 35,000 EVMs and also kept provision for meeting emergencies with additional EVMs.  

The EC has deployed 130 executive and judicial magistrates and nearly 50,000 law enforcers, including members of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), to ensure the smooth and peaceful voting to be held from 8am to 4pm without any break. Awami League mayoral candidates Atiqul Islam and Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh were optimistic about their chances of victory in the elections slated for today. They also seemed confident that voters would cast votes in favour of their electoral symbol boat to keep alive the development of the nation.

BNP mayoral candidates Tabith Awal and Ishraque Hossain, on the other hand, urged EC to ensure that the voters reach the polling centres safely. Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda yesterday said EC has not held any biased elections before and it is committed to hold free, fair and impartial elections this time as well. A general holiday has been announced in the capital to allow some 55 lakh voters to cast votes in DNCC and DSCC elections, which would being at 8 am. There will be no breaks in voting and it will end at 4pm.

The EC said an adequate number of judicial and executive magistrates, supported by law enforcers, have been assigned to the task of looking into any infringement of electoral code of conduct and law and order violations, and the polls would be held in a peaceful and festive atmosphere. While inspecting the distribution of election materials at Dhaka Residential Model College in the capital, the CEC said the law enforcers and others have been instructed to carry out their duties without any bias.  “We have repeatedly told the law enforcers to carry out their duties impartially. Even we have told the presiding officers, assistant presiding officers and others to play their role without any bias. The judicial magistrates have been given the same instructions,” he said.

About the elections, he said, “The polls would be participatory, free, fair and impartial as a kind of festive environment is prevailing.” In reply to a query, he said, “I did not see the trust of all political parties on the EC. So the ruling party will have one version and those out of power would give another version. It has become a political culture.” He also urged the political parties to come out of the culture of distrust on the EC.

Drawing attention to the candidates, Nurul Huda said, “We hope the candidates would cause any deterioration to the election environment. Voters will cast votes. Have trust on the voters.” In reply to a query, the CEC said, “If anyone tries to create anarchy in elections, the law enforcers would handle it.”  He also hoped that the foreign observers would oversee the polls following the guidelines.

According to the EC, the elections would be held with the EVMs at all the centres.  Though the BNP candidates are contesting the mayoral posts, the party and its contenders have continued to question the use of EMVs.

The EC, however, claims there is no scope of vote stuffing before election when EVMs are used.

Voters, polling stations and candidates

As per the EC, there are a total of 54,63,467 eligible voters in DNCC and DSCC, who would cast votes at 2,468 polling centers. Under the DNCC, there are 7,846 polling booths in 1,318 polling centres while under DSCC there are 6,588 polling booths in 1,150 centres.

In DNCC, there are 30,10,273 eligible voters which include 15,49,567 male and 14,60,706 female, while under DSCC there are 24,53,194 voters with 12,93,441 male and 11,59,753 female.

Alongside electing a mayor in both the city corporations, DNCC voters will elect 54 ward councillors and 18 reserved women councilors. The DSCC voters will elect 75 ward councillors and 25 reserved women councillors.

According to the EC, a total of 749 candidates are contesting the DNCC and DSCC polls.

Under DNCC elections, there are a total of 334 candidates. Of them, six are mayoral candidates, 77 women reserved councilors and 251 general ward councilors.

DNCC mayoral candidate of the ruling party Awami League (AL) Md Atiqul Islam is contesting with ‘boat’ symbol while Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) candidate Tabith Awal with ‘sheaf of paddy’, National People’s Party mayoral candidate Md Anisur Rahman Dewan with ‘mango’ symbol, Progressive Democratic Party candidate Shahin Khan with ‘tiger’ symbol, Islami Andolon Bangladesh candidate Sheikh Md Fazle Bari Masud with ‘hand fan’ and Bangladesh Communist Party candidate Ahammad Sajedul Haque with ‘sickle’ symbol.

On the other hand, under the DSCC polls there are 415 candidates. Of them, seven are mayoral candidates, 82 women reserved councilors and 326 general ward councilors.

On the other hand, DSCC election AL candidate Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh is contesting with AL’s traditional ‘boat’ symbol while BNP candidate Ishraque Hossain with the party’s symbol ‘sheaf of paddy’, Jatiya Party candidate Mohammad Saifuddin with ‘plough’ symbol, Bangladesh Congress candidate Md Aktar Uzzaman alias Ayatullah with ‘coconut’ symbol, National People’s Party candidate Bahrane Sultan Bahar with ‘mango’ symbol, Ganofront candidate Abdus Samad with ‘fish’ symbol and Islami Andolan Bangladesh candidate Abdur Rahman with ‘hand fan’ symbol.

Election observers

At least 67 foreign observers from seven countries and the European Union, alongside local observers, will observe the polls throughout the day, according to the EC.

Of the foreign observers, 27 are from the United States, 12 from the United Kingdom, six each from Switzerland and Netherlands, five each from Japan and European Union, four from Norway, two from Denmark, the Commission sources said.

Along with foreign observers, there would be around 1,013 local observers in the election field to monitor the polls.

Law enforcers

The EC has deployed nearly 50,000 law enforcers for the DNCC and DSCC polls. Of the forces, there would be 1,290 mobile police, 430 striking police, 520 reserve police, 1,430 RAB and 2,250 Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) teams.

As per the EC, there would be 16 law enforcers including police and ansar at each polling station while the important centres would have 18 law enforcers.

Besides, the Commission has deployed mobile teams and striking forces of the law enforcers ahead of the DNCC and DSCC polls.

Under DNCC, there would be 27 platoons of Border Guard Bangladesh members deployed while this number would be 38 platoons in DSCC. One platoon of BGB would remain deployed on average for every two wards.

In addition, there would be 54 teams of RAB on duty under DNCC and 76 teams of RAB in DSCC. There would also be mobile force, striking force and reserve force comprising of APBN and battalion ansars. Under the DNCC, there would be 54 mobile force, 18 striking force and 27 reserve striking force while under DSCC, there would be 75 mobile force, 25 striking force and 25 reserve force, the EC said.

Presiding and Polling Officers

The EC has recruited over 50,706 election officials and technical assistants to hold the polls properly.

A total of 2468 presiding officers, 14,434 assistant presiding officers, 28,868 polling officers will be on duty today at the centres to hold the polls at the DNCC and DSCC. Besides, there would be 4,936 technical assistant to provide different kinds of assistance including support for EVMs.

Voting centre info through SMS, Website

Voters can information about their polling centres to cast votes through a number of means including SMS, website or telephone.

For SMS, a voter needs to type ‘PC NID number’ and send text message to 105 to get the voter number and name of the polling station in reply SMS.

To get information from website, the voters can get the voter number and name of polling station on the website of the EC’s NID wing by visiting https://services.nidw.gov.bd/voter_center and voter number and name of polling station can also be obtained by calling 105 number between 8am and 8pm.

The Election Commission had fixed the date of submitting nomination papers for the two Dhaka city polls on December 31, 2019 while the scrutinies of the nomination papers were January 2, 2020. The last date of withdrawal of nominations was January 9 and polling date had been fixed for January 30.

But the polling date was shifted to February 01 following strong opposition from the Hindu community and others, as Saraswati Puja was also to be observed on January 30.

The EC move came after petitions were filed with the High Court to shift the date, while protesters held programmes including hunger strikes demanding rescheduling of the elections. After the High Court gave its order to hold the polls on January 30, an appeal was made against the High Court Order with the Appellate Division. Meanwhile, mayoral candidates and even the ruling party urged the EC to reconsider the election date. A number of Dhaka University students on hunger strike fell ill and were admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Finally, on January 18, the EC shifted the election date to February 01, bringing an amicable solution over the polling date debate. The move also caused the education ministry to shift the SSC and equivalent examinations by two days, which were set to begin on February 01.

IK

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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