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18 January, 2020 00:00 00 AM

No problem if city polls deferred: AL

Calls to reschedule DNCC, DSCC elections grow stronger
STAFF REPORTER with DU Correspondent, Dhaka
No problem if city polls deferred: AL

The Election Commission is now facing calls from different quarters to reschedule the upcoming elections to the two Dhaka city corporations, while the ruling party yesterday cleared its stance, that it has no problem if the commission changes the date to the elections to reach an amicable solution.

People of the Hindu community, some mayoral candidates and university students are all demanding that the January 30 elections to Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) be rescheduled, which coincides with the Hindu religious festival of Saraswati Puja.

Meanwhile, three Dhaka University students were hospitalised yesterday as they fell ill on the second day of their fast-unto-death programme demanding deferral of the

elections schedule to allow proper observance of puja.

While the Election Commission is still sticking to its scheduled date for holding the polls, claiming they do not have any other option, the commission said they would comply with any order given by the court over the election date.  The Appellate Division is likely to hear a petition tomorrow seeking deferral of the DNCC, DSCC polls. 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 High Court’s January 14 order which rejected his writ petition filed over the issue.

The Hindu community is demanding the deferral of the election date and has urged the EC to take it into consideration as the election activities would hinder the observance of Saraswarti Puja by devotees.

The rituals of the Puja of Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge, would be held at different educational institutions, which would also be used as election centres.

Meanwhile, ruling Awami League (AL) said it wants an acceptable and logical solution over the polling date rescheduling of the upcoming DNCC and DSCC elections. AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader said the party and the government has no problem if the EC changes the election date out of necessity.

Speaking at a press conference at the AL president’s Dhanmondi political office Obaidul Quader, also the road transport and bridges minister, said, “We should respect every religion. I hope the EC will find out an acceptable and rational solution over the issue by sitting with leaders of the Hindu community. If it is necessary to change the polling date for the city polls, the commission can do it. AL or its government will have no objection to that.”

“It is the jurisdiction of the EC whether it would change the date of polling for the two city elections,” he added.

Quader’s yesterday’s comment announcing no objection to polls-date rescheduling comes a day after he urged those demanding deferral of city polls to stop their protest and accept the High Court order, which had allowed for holding of elections on Jan 30.

Meanwhile, four students of Dhaka University (DU) yesterday fell ill during their hunger strike demanding the deferment of polls date and three of them were admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH). The other one was put on intravenous saline around 2pm yesterday. Jagannath Hall Union Vice-President Utpal Biswas said Apurba Chakrabarty of Theatre and Performance Studies Department, Orko Shaha of Soil, Water and Environment Department and Prodip Das, hall union social service secretary were admitted to DMCH.

Kajal Das, general secretary of the same hall union, was being administered intravenous saline as his condition deteriorated, Biswas added.

According to Utpal, at least 25 DU students began fast unto death at the base of Raju Memorial Sculpture on the campus from Thursday afternoon demanding rescheduling of Dhaka North and South city corporation polls.

Meanwhile, DU Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Md Akhtaruzzman met the protesting students and expressed solidarity with them yesterday. “Students are doing protest which reflects their democratic values and non-communal courage...Their demand is logical and I urge the Election Commission to reconsider the date for holding the polls,” the DU VC said.

Meanwhile, Jago Hindu Parishad, a platform of the Hindu community people, staged a demonstration on the campus around 11:30am echoing the same demand of city polls rescheduling.

Addressing a programme in the capital, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said it was the decision of the EC to hold the polls on the same day with Saraswati Puja. The Commission will take the final decision in this regard.

Ruling out any scope of deterioration in law and order, the minister said, “There is no reason for the deterioration of the law and order situation over the issue. Everyone understands the gravity of the situation. We would follow the instruction of the EC.”

Tabith Awal, the BNP mayoral candidate of Dhaka North City Corporation polls, blamed the Election Commission for creating a controversy over the election date.

“The EC has intentionally created a controversy over the arrangement of elections on the day when Puja will be celebrated by the Hindu community. They should reconsider their decision,” Tabith said yesterday.

“A petition has been filed with the Appellate Division over the issue. We are also looking at the Court’s decision on this matter,” the BNP mayoral candidate added.

Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council and Minority Unity Platform will hold a press conference at the Unity Council office in the capital today demanding the deferment of the polls date.

The council general secretary Rana Das Gupta said, “We are holding the press conference demanding the deferment of the polls date as Saraswati Puja will be held on the same date. This press conference will be held as EC is still sticking to its firm decision not to change the date.”

The Election Commission has so far said it was firm on holding Dhaka city polls on scheduled dates. EC secretary Md Alamgir on Thursday said, “The elections would be held as per the schedule. We have no other option. But a petition has been filed with the court, and we must accept any decision of the court.”



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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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