Asianbarta : Voting in the Rangpur City Corporation (RCC) elections began on Thursday morning amid a four-tier security measure having the presence of over 5,500 security personnel.
The balloting in 193 polling stations started at 8:00am and will continue till 4:00pm without any break.
Meanwhile, the mayoral candidates of three leading political parties have cast their votes in different polling stations.
Mostafizar Rahman Mostafa of Jatiya Party cast his vote at Alamnagar Government Primary School, Sharfuddin Ahmed Jhantu of Awami League at GuptoparaSalema Girls High School and Kawsar Zaman Babla of BNP at MahiganjDewandigi Government Primary School. All of them cast their votes between 8.35 to 10am this morning.
Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad also practiced his democratic right at SenparaShishu Mongol Government Primary School.
Jhantu had won the first mayoral polls in Rangpur in 2012, defeating his nearest rival Mostafa by 30,000 votes. The election was non-partisan.
Although the Jatiya Party mayoral nominee is in a strong position, only 15 pro-JP candidates are running councillor polls. Besides, only 18-pro BNP ward councillor hopefuls are contesting the elections.
A good number of voters, including female voters, is seen at different polling stations while filing of this report.
Of the polling stations, 128 are said to be vulnerable, or at risk of seeing violence. A security team, numbering 22-25, is guarding every polling station.
Seven candidates are there in the election race for the mayoral post, while 211 candidates for ward councillors and 65 women candidates for reserved councilors.
In the mayoral race, there are being a triangular fight among Sarfuddin Ahmed of Awami League, MdMostafizur Rahman of Jatiya Party and Kawsar Jahan Babla of BNP, local people said.
The election is being held with the polls symbols of political parties unlike its maiden election held on December 20, 2012, when pro-Awami League Sarfuddin Ahmed (Jhantu) was elected mayor defeating his nearest rival Mostafizur Rahman.
In the 2012 election, Sarfuddin bagged 106,255 votes, while Mostafiz polled 77,835 and Jatiya Party-backed AKM AbdurRoufManik got 37,208 votes and BNP-backed Kawsar Jahan bagged only 21,235 votes.
This time Hossain Makbul Shahriar, who is the nephew of HM Ershad, is contesting the election as an independent mayoral candidate as the party nominated Mostafiz to contest the polls.
All the measures have been taken to make Rangpur City Corporation polls ‘a model election’ and will try to arrange next city corporation elections in Gazipur, Rajshahi, Khulna, Barisal and Sylhet in the same manner.
Under the current Election Commission headed by KM Nurul Huda, this election is the second major polls after Comilla City Corporation election held in March last.
Just a day ahead of the election, the EC could not confirm whether new Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs)) instead of ballot paper will be used in a particular polling station — the Begum Rokeya Government College at ward 25 — as per its plan.
Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras have been installed in three polling stations to monitor the election uninterruptedly.
A total of 3,93,994 voters — 1,96,356 men and 1,97,638 women — are expected to exercise their voting right to elect a mayor, 33 ward councillors and 11 councillors to the reserved seats of women in the election.
The EC have two monitoring cells – one in Rangpur and another in the EC Secretariat – to watch the election continuously.
The Commission has sent its own observer team, numbering 22 officials, to monitor the polls, he added.
Alongside over 5,500 law enforcers, 11 judicial magistrates and 33 executive magistrates will be in the election area to check any possible breaching of the election code of conduct and election violence, the Commissioner said.
On November 5 last, the EC announced the election schedule for the city corporation.