Thursday, June 13, 2024

All eyes on Gazipur civic poll today

All eyes are on the high-stake Gazipur City Corporation (GCC) poll on Saturday, which has come to the fore of national politics in the backdrop of the landslide victory of Opposition-backed candidates in the recently concluded election to four city corporations.
The GCC election has become an acid test for the Awami League to prove that the power to attract popular support at the local level is still well within its capacity. The prelude to the GCC poll has been marked by a series of dramatic events, including withdrawal of candidature by AL rebel candidate, contradictory stand of the JP leadership and the NBR’s notice to the BNP-backed candidate over  alleged tax evasion. However, the high-voltage campaigning, conducted by the two major mayoral candidates, was not marred by any major incident. The two major parties have made frantic efforts to woo 10.26 lakh voters of the GCC area.
Voting will begin at 8 am and end at 4 pm, without any break, at 392 polling stations. The Election Commission has completed all preparations for the first ever mayoral poll of the GCC that was formed this year.
Returning officer Matiar Rahman said more than 12,000 law enforcers would be deployed to maintain law and order during polling. “We’ve completed all preparations to hold the election in a free and fair manner. It’s difficult to hold polls in the large area that falls under the GCC, but we’ve completed our preparations,” he added.  Though six candidates are contesting for the post of mayor, the main battle would be between the AL-backed Azmat Ullah and the BNP-backed Prof. MA Mannan.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Opposition leader Khaleda Zia have reportedly been monitoring election
arrangements, with the Opposition alleging that the Prime Minister’s Office was interfering in the electioneering process.
Analysts say Gazipur has always been a strong bastion of the Awami League and that the comparatively clean image of the AL-backed candidate, Azmat Ullah, is a boon for the party.
“We’re hopeful that people will give their verdict in favour of us,” said a veteran AL leader supervising the election campaign for his party. The AL has engaged 57 lawmakers in each of the 57 wards of the GCC to supervise the election campaign.
On the other hand, the BNP’s acting secretary general, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, is confident of the victory of the Opposition-backed mayoral candidate. “The government is trying to deny Prof. Mannan his victory, but people will not allow it. We will have the people’s mandate here,” he said.
Traditionally, AL candidates have always fared well in Gazipur. District AL president AKM Mozammel Huq has not lost any election in Gazipur in the last 22 years. On the other hand, Mannan won here in the 1991 Parliament election and later became the state minister for religious affairs. However, some experts feel that larger national issues like the Hefazat-e-Islam problem, corruption in the PMB project, Hallmark scam and law and order worries have overshadowed local issues and that the past performance of the ruling party may not work this time.
Also, more than three lakh RMG workers, who form one-third of the total number of  voters, would play a pivotal role in determining the election result.
At a hurriedly called press conference on Thursday, Jatiya Party chairman Ershad announced his support for the 14-party Grand Alliance-backed candidate, Ajmat Ullah Khan. However, a large number of JP activists of Gazipur were seen campaigning for the BNP-backed candidate, defying their chief’s order. Some local JP leaders told The Independent that they were not seriously taking the last moment announcement of Ershad as it might be influenced by government pressure.
Earlier, both the the AL and BNP-backed candidates met Ershad to seek his support after the JP presidium member, Brig. Gen. (retd) Kazi Mahmud Hasan, withdrew from the fray.

-With The Independent input

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