After an 18-day high voltage campaigning Narayanganj City Corporation is all set to go to polls today with focus on who will be the next city mayor.
The electioneering officially ended on Friday midnight.
Although seven candidates are running for the post of the NCC mayor, ruling party nominee Selina Hayat Ivy and her principal rival – Advocate Taimur Alam Khandaker, a veteran BNP leader fighting as an independent candidate – have stolen all the attention.
Election watchers are expecting a tight contest between them. Supporters of both candidates have con-ducted hectic electioneering.
Besides 148 candidates are contesting for 27 ward councilors post while 38 women are contesting for conserved seats for women in the NCC polls.
This time the NCC elections have 517,357 voters – including 257,519 females. As the candidates are trying to woo voters with promises, all the voters want is the development of their city.
The candidates’ qualifications, popularity, party symbol, gender, age, electronic voting machines (EVMs), and turnout could be the deciding factors this year. Women and youth are expected to play a pivotal role. All the heavyweight mayoral candidates are making last-minute efforts to win their votes.
However, there are some 42,418 first-time voters. Whoever wants to win the election must bag a major chunk of the first-timers, according to popular perceptions.
Around 5,000 law enforcing personnel will be deployed for 192 polling centers of NCC election each having 26 members, said Mahfuza Akter, returning officer of NCC election on Friday evening.
Striking joint force of police and Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) will immediately take actions if any un-favorable situation arises during the poll, she said.
Meanwhile from Friday midnight to Monday midnight all kinds of vehicle movement including vessels and motorcycles have been restricted ahead of NCC election in the area, according to a notification is-sued by Narayanganj District Commissioner, Mostain Billah on Thursday.
However, law enforcers, administrative officers, health workers and journalists remain exempted from the order but they will need to show their Identity Cards, said the notice.
On Saturday, Superintendent of Narayanganj police Zaidul Alam said, no outsiders will be allowed in Narayanganj on the day of the city civic polls and all residents should carry their national identity (NID) cards with them.
A three-tier security network would be set up for Narayanganj City Corporation polls, slated for Sunday, the SP said.
“Adequate law enforcement agencies have already been deployed for ensuring law and order in the city, and 14 platoons of Bangladesh Border Guard (BGB) will be deployed on the polling day,” he said.
Ivy vs Taimur
Though Ivy, the incumbent mayor, is popular among the voters she faces a tough challenge from Tai-mur.
On the two previous NCC elections since Narayanganj became a city corporation it captured the interest of the entire country – particularly the first time in 2011.
It was very much because of the arrival on the scene of Dr Selina Hayat Ivy. The original “rebel candi-date,” she took on and defeated the Awami League’s heavyweight in the area, Shamim Osman, by over 1 lakh votes. That was the start of her enduring rivalry with Shamim – the two torchbearers of two very different strands of the Awami League in Narayanganj.
In 2016, Ivy won again – this time as the Awami League candidate. Shamim by then had become a member of parliament in 2014. He did look to deprive Ivy of the Awami League nomination, but the party’s central command defied the recommendation of its Narayanganj unit – with which Shamim held great influence – to back the popular incumbent.
This time, in 2022, the NCC election has once again breathed some life into politics. The city is now awash with campaign posters and banners.
Politicians and their supporters took to the field, carrying out activities in 27 wards of NCC. Candidates were seen campaigning hard to win the polls, going door to door and meeting voters face to face until late into the night.
However Ivy had to face few challenges during electioneering as regular political front faces who cam-paigned for her in previous two elections were nowhere to be seen this time. Besides, Shamim Osman couldn’t also campaign directly for her in fear of breaking electioneering rules.
Although Shamim’s equation with Ivy is possibly irredeemable – as anyone who has seen their open warfare on the set of a private television channel can understand – questions were being raised as to whether Shamim’s drive to put one over Ivy was making him even neglect his duty towards his party by not campaigning for the candidate.
Generally, it is felt that as long as the Osman family is on board and active in the field for Ivy, her vic-tory is assured.
But Shamim’s press conference this week failed to convince too many people.
There is still a feeling for some reason that the Osman family is with Taimur because they can never be with Ivy.
Meanwhile, Taimur Alam Khandaker, the prime opponent of Ivy, managed to present himself as a peo-ple’s candidate although being from BNP as his party has suspended him from two leading posts recent-ly.
Besides SM Akram, the former convener of district Awami Leagueand the man who was the chief of Ivy’s election executive committee in 2011 is now directly campaigning in the field for Taimur. Which has become a game changer for Taimur and a surprising element for the NCC voters.
Support from Jatiya Party Chairmen from different unions of Bandar upazila is also working in favor of Taimur.
Taimur in his campaigns pointed out at Ivy’s list of unfulfilled promises made in her earlier manifestos of the last two elections. Taimurs supporters mentioned Ivy had no role in building bus terminals, truck terminals, starting Narayanganj city service, conserving the historical places and making the Shitalakhya River pollution free.
Taimur also campaigned attacking Ivy for increasing taxes in NCC amid Covid-19 pandemic.
However, Ivy during her campaign claimed 90 per cent work of 21 plans for NCC’s development men-tioned in her 2016 election manifesto have been completed already and stated the tax increasing blame on her as a propaganda.
All eyes on N’ganj city polls today