Amid tension and anxiety among voters, the Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC) election is going to take place on Sunday.
Two-time NCC Mayor Selina Hayat Ivy, the ruling party candidate, and suspended BNP leader Taimur Alam Khondoker will contest the mayoral race.
Locals told Dhaka Tribune they were not very interested in casting their ballots as they feared the election would not be impartial.
Supporters of certain councillors had already visited homes to collect National Identity Card (NID) numbers, some of the locals alleged.
Although residents of the city seemed disinterested in the polls, factory workers and residents of port areas were in a festive mood as candidates have been focusing on ensuring their presence at voting centres.
The district administration has urged voters to cast their ballots freely, as 18 platoons of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) have been deployed in NCC areas from Friday night to maintain the peace.
“We are preparing to stop every type of possible violence on election day. As many as 30 magistrates, 18 platoons of BGB, a 100-member team of RAB and intelligence agenices will work to ensure a peaceful voting day,” said Mostain Billah, district commissioner (DC) of Narayanganj.
He also said: “We are giving equal importance to the vote centres. We will also make a list of the most important centres on Saturday.”
Matiur Rahman, district returning officer, said: “We are holding mock votes on the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) to help the voters. Hopefully, the election will be held in a festive manner.”
When contacted, Zayedul Alam, the police superintendent of Narayanganj, told Dhaka Tribune on Friday evening that there were some problems in some wards, but none of the issues were major
“In every election, there will be some chaotic areas. We are protecting all voting centres, but we are giving more importance to 30 of them.”
During a press conference on Friday, opposition candidate Taimur Alam said: “Awami League central Leader Jahangir Kabir Nanok and some others had a meeting with the DC and SP of Narayanganj on Thursday night. We did not expect this from a central leader.”
Taimur claimed that he and his supporters were being repeatedly threatened, but the administration was yet to act on his complaint.
He also alleged that CCTV cameras had already been disabled at some schools that are to be used as polling centres.
“I have complained about it three times to the EC, but they have not taken any action yet. So, I think I have no way except to seek help from the prime minister now,” he added.
When contacted, District Returning Officer Matiur Rahman said he had not received any complaint about CCTV cameras.
On the last day of the election campaign, Selina Hayat Ivy along with Awami league central leaders held a huge public meeting at the Number 2 Rail Gate area of the city.
Selina Hayat Ivy sought votes and chanted some Awami League slogans at the meeting.
She urged the people to elect her to stand against violence and terrorism.
Ivy has been governing the NCC for the last two consecutive terms. She was elected for the first time in 2011 after triumphing over Awami League lawmaker Shamim Osman.
In the last election, then-BNP candidate Taimur Alam withdrew his candidature the night before voting day. Ivy went on to win against Shakhawat Hossain, another BNP candidate.
Regarding the Sunday’s polls, Taimur said: “I will not escape from the election this time. I did last time as per instructions from the party high command . This year, I am participating in the election after getting expelled from the party.”
What do the voters say?
Jahid Hasan, a college student and voter from Ward 17, said: “We want a fair election so that I can cast my vote in person.”
Saleha Begum, a woman from Ward 14, said: “Votes are not necessary now. In the last national election, I did not cast my vote. Today, some people collected my Voter Identity Card number by saying it is needed for the voting day. So, I think this time I do not need to vote again.”
Rahman, a school teacher from Ward 13, said: “Right now, votes are not a matter of festivity. If we see the voting day environment is comfortable, then we will be there to cast our votes.”