POST TIME: 19 January, 2020 12:17:37 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 19 January, 2020 07:26:52 PM
City polls now on Feb 1
EC defers voting by two days amid protests against holding DNCC, DSCC elections on the day of Saraswati Puja

City polls now on Feb 1

Dhaka University students, some on intravenous saline, continue their fast-unto-death on the campus yesterday demanding deferral of the date of elections to Dhaka city corporations, which coincides with Saraswati Puja. As the demand from various quarters for the polls-date rescheduling grew stronger, the Election Commission decided to defer the poll date to February 1. Focus Bangla Photo

SSC, equivalent exams to begin on February 3

The Election Commission (EC) has decided to defer polls to the two Dhaka city corporations by two days to February 1 amid demands from various quarters for rescheduling the January 30 polls as it coincides with the observance of Saraswati Puja. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has deferred the secondary school certificate (SSC) and equivalent examinations by two days and the examination will now begin on February 3. The decision to reschedule the date of election brought an end to the days of protests following strong demands for polls deferral from the Hindu community, university students and the political leaders including the city mayoral candidates.

The EC made the decision after a four-hour emergency meeting at its office yesterday, with Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda in the chair.

Emerging from the meeting, the CEC said, “It was a critical situation. So, it took a while to decide. I talked to the education minister about the issue and shared with her whether it is possible to reschedule the (SSC) examinations.”

“The talks took place keeping in mind that the election schedule should not hurt anyone’s religious sentiment. She (the minister), too, agreed. After arranging things at her office, they agreed to change the examination routine,” he informed.

The school-leaving exams will now start from February 3 instead of the previously-scheduled February 1, education ministry’s Public Relations Officer Md Abul Khayer told the media last night.

According to him, “The Dhaka North and South city elections were scheduled to be held on January 30. Due to the Saraswati Puja on the day, there was a demand for change in the election date.”

The EC, he said, was informed previously that it was not possible to postpone the election date due to SSC examinations. “Taking into consideration the matter, the education ministry has now decided to take the SSC and equivalent examinations on February 3 instead of February 1.”

Meanwhile, a group of Dhaka University (DU) students, who went on a fast unto death on Thursday demanding deferment of the polls to the two Dhaka city corporations, ended their strike last night after their demand was met. They broke their strike sipping juice and water offered by DU Vice-chancellor

Prof Akhtaruzzaman soon after the announcement deferring the elections. Speaking on the occasion, the DU VC thanked the EC for its decision, saying good senses have finally prevailed on them.

Earlier, different quarters, including the members of Hindu community, Bangladesh Hindu-Buddha-Christian Oikya Parishad, mayoral candidates, political leaders and university students demanded that the January 30 election to Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) be rescheduled, which coincides with the Hindu religious festival of Saraswati Puja.

Some DU students, who began a fast-unto-death on Thursday last, continued their programme for the third consecutive day yesterday, demanding polls deferral. Five students fell ill on the third day of the hunger strike.

On Friday, the DU VC and DU Teachers Association (DUTA) President ASM Maksud Kamal expressed solidarity with the protesters and urged the EC to hold the polls on a different date.

Bangladesh Hindu-Buddha-Christian Oikya Parishad General Secretary Advocate Rana Dasgupta warned that they would resist the election on January 30. The Parishad also held a press conference at its office in the capital yesterday.

On Wednesday, the EC officials had said that they did not want to change the election date, citing a writ petition seeking deferral of the elections, which was rejected by the High Court (HC).

Earlier, Supreme Court lawyer Advocate Ashoke Kumar Ghosh filed an appeal with the apex court on Thursday requesting the EC to fix a new date for holding the elections. He filed the appeal challenging the HC’s January 14 order that rejected his writ petition filed over the issue. However, the Appellate Division is scheduled to hold a hearing on the appeal today.

According to the old schedule, the rituals of the Puja of Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge as per the Hindu belief, would be held at different educational institutions, which were also scheduled to be used as election centres according to the previous schedule.