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5 December, 2016 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 5 December, 2016 01:05:08 AM

N’ganj polls acid test for AL, last test case for BNP

Campaign formally kicks off today
Abu Jakir

The ruling Awami League (AL) is taking the upcoming Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC) poll as an acid test of its popularity before the national elections scheduled to be held in 2019, while the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is taking the NCC poll as a last test case to see whether there is any change in the government’s attitude and mentality.
The ruling AL wants to see a free, fair and competitive election in the port city so that its arch rival, the BNP, cannot raise any questions about the poll and make it an issue for organising a movement against the Sheikh Hasina government, party insiders said. The BNP, on the other hand, wants to go to the people’s doors through the election and highlight the government’s misdeeds before them.
The ruling party has already nominated a single candidate and instructed the rebel leaders of the Narayanganj AL unit to work for the party-nominated candidate so that she can secure victory in the port city election, slated for December 22.
Party insiders said this time the AL top brass has nominated popular district AL leader and former NCC mayor, Selina Hayat Ivy, to snatch victory for the party’s symbol, the ‘Nouka’ (boat), and make the poll free, fair and competitive so that no one can make the poll controversial.
Though the Narayanganj city AL had earlier put forth a list of three prospective candidates for the mayoral race to the central AL in which Selina Hayat Ivy was excluded, but the AL high command chose Ivy.
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has deep feelings about the NCC poll. She is continuously monitoring her leaders’ and workers’ activities centred on the local body election,” AL joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif told The Independent yesterday.
“Our party’s president, Sheikh Hasina, has already directed Shamim Osman and other Narayanganj district leaders to obey party instructions if they want to do politics with the AL and work for party-backed candidate Ivy in the NCC poll. It is clear she is serious about the NCC poll,” he said.
“The state machinery will not interfere in the NCC poll. The ruling party wants to understand the people’s pulse through the election,” said an organising secretary of the AL yesterday, seeking anonymity.
Meanwhile, BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia has already instructed the leaders of the Narayanganj district unit of the party to work together to emerge victorious.
Talking to this correspondent recently, BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said they were considering the NCC poll as the last test case to find out whether “there was any change in the government’s character and mentality”.
Earlier, the BNP finalised the name of Shakhawat Hossain Khan, former Narayanganj District Bar Association president, as the party’s mayoral candidate for the NCC poll.  The BNP has already demanded deployment of the Army on voting day in a bid to hold the poll in a free, fair and transparent manner to allow voters to cast their ballots without any interruption.
Besides, the mayoral candidates for the NCC election can formally launch their campaign from today as the Election Commission will allocate poll symbols among the candidates today.
The NCC poll will be held under the party banner for the first time in the port city. That is why the election symbols have become irrelevant for the mayoral candidates, especially for the candidates of major political parties.   As the election symbols are fixed for the candidates of the AL and BNP, they have already launched their election campaigns.
The ruling AL candidate and immediate past city mayor, Selina Hayat Ivy, is already facing accusations of having violated the electoral code of conduct. On this issue, EC officials said the commission allocates election symbols among the aspirants on a fixed date so that they can start their campaigns together from the fixed date.
In the Narayanganj election, to be held on December 22, over 4.79 lakh voters are expected to vote to elect a city mayor, 27 ward councillors and nine women councillors from the reserved seats.
The maiden election to the NCC was held on October 30, 2011, when Selina Hayat Ivy won the race, defeating ruling AL-backed candidate Shamim Osman.
Earlier in the morning, a meeting of AL-led 14-party alliance was held at the party president Sheikh Hasina’s Dhanmondi political office. Alliance partners extended their supports to the AL candidate Selina Hayat Ivy for the NCC polls at the meeting.
Alliance partner Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD-Inu) backed mayoral candidate Moslem Uddin withdrew his nomination paper yesterday, the last date of withdrawal of nomination forms. Besides, some fifteen aspirants for councillor also withdrew their nominations yesterday.
Meanwhile, AL candidate Ivy and BNP candidate Shakhawat carried out mass contact in different places in the port city yesterday.




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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

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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.

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