Vol. 5 Num 338 Wed. May 11, 2005  
Front Page

Emphatic win for Mohiuddin
Result forces govt, opposition to rethink nat'l polls future

The emphatic win for ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury over the ruling coalition challenger Mir Mohammad Nasir Uddin leads both the government and the opposition to rethink their political future ahead of the parliamentary polls in early 2007.

After the overnight drama over slow pace of results announcement, the office of the Returning Officer (RO) finally announced Mohiuddin, the Awami League-backed Nagorik Committee candidate, elected for the straight third time as city father of Chittagong, sending his supporters in jubilation.

Out of the total 11, 38,318 voters, Mohiuddin polled 3,50,891 and Mir Nasir bagged 2,59,410 in Monday's CCC polls. With 55.82 percent voters exercising their franchise, Mohiuddin got an edge of 91,481 votes over his nearest rival.

The ruling coalition leadership did not express any worry explicitly over Mir Nasir's defeat, but the opposition parties, campaigning for reforms in the caretaker government and Election Commission (EC), now find new hope in this remarkable victory, foreseeing better chance in next parliamentary polls.

BNP leadership, however, said that they did not think the CCC polls results in their disfavour would have no bearings on the ruling coalition's future election lucks.

While Mohiuddin, in his very first public address after the victory, stressed the need for a metropolitan government, Mir Nasir passed his day mostly indoors. The latter handled well in restraining his supporters when a stray but unpleasant incident of attack on pro-Mohiuddin men took place yesterday afternoon.

Golam Quddus, the RO, unofficially declared Mohiuddin as the CCC mayor at 6:15am.

The crowd gathered on the Outer Stadium premises near the makeshift election office greeted the unofficial declaration. AL leaders, activists and supporters who had been waiting there overnight rocked the Outer Stadium and adjacent areas with applause and cheers when Mohiduddin stood up on a mobile dais to address the gathering.

He said his win in the polls is the victory of the people. "It is a victory for freedom and for raising our heads high," he told the huge gathering.

As soon as the results were declared, thousands of people took to the streets in small processions chanting slogans and sprinkling colored water. The port city turned into a human sea of people celebrating the victory of Mohiuddin.

Earlier, after the polling ended at 4:00pm Monday, people keen to know the results gathered at polling centres across the port city. Results from different polling centres started to arrive in the Election Commission (EC) office at about 7:30pm.

The Nagorik Committee, meantime, gathered vote statistics from their polling agents at different centres that indicated a resounding win for Mohiuddin.

But the slow pace of reporting at the EC office and delay in announcing the polls outcome angered people waiting for the results. Hundreds of AL supporters led by Mohiuddin Chowdhury thronged the EC office at around 9:30pm as unofficial results of only 30 centres out of 577 were announced by that time.

After a pause of half an hour, the RO resumed announcing the centre-wise results at about 10:00pm in presence of central and local leaders of both AL and BNP.

Mohiuddin's election agent Nurul Islam BSc, AL central leaders Obaidul Quader, Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Shahjahan Khan, Akhtaruzzaman Chowdhury Babu and Zahid Ahsan Russell were present there for Nagorik Committee candidate.

On behalf of Mir Nasir, his election agent former minister Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury and State Minister for Communications Salahuddin Ahmed were present.

Announcement of results of all the 577 polling centres completed at around 5:00am.

AL Joint Secretary Obaidul Quader told newsmen that the margin of the victory would have been even wider had there been no rigging by BNP-Jamaat men.

The RO expressed his satisfaction with the way polls were held. "Leaders of both the sides have termed the election free, fair and peaceful," he said. The RO hopes that such peaceful polling would continue to consolidate democracy.

Mir Nasir however declined to comment when reporters met him to know his reaction after the polls results were announced.

The victory of Mohiuddin is now seen as an acknowledgement of his commendable achievements during his two tenures as the mayor of Chittagong City Corporation.

Electing Mohiuddin for a third term, people in Chittagong extended their support to his role in bringing in improvement in various sectors, including healthcare, education and cleanliness in the last 11 years.

Besides, the port city people have attributed his reelection to various social work and his pro-people attitude.

Mohiuddin won the heart of people through initiating different kinds of motivational programmes in healthcare services, especially for safe motherhood and childcare. He set up community health clinics at almost every ward.

Observers noted that high-profile poll campaigns involving top ministers, coalition lawmakers and the prime minister's son ultimately fell short to woo voters in Nasir's favour as the image of a 'performing mayor' Mohiuddin overshadowed their efforts.

Average voters, political activists and people in general expressed happiness over the way the poll was held reflecting the free will and advancement of democratic practices.

Mir Nasir's chief election agent Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury MP yesterday said that Monday's election to the Chittagong City Corporation proved well the government's ability of holding polls in a free and fair manner.

"In democracy, victory and defeat go hand in hand. Certainly grieve the defeat, but we have extended all possible cooperation to make the election free and impartial," he told UNB in his reaction to the poll results.

BNP Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan took credit in arranging a peaceful polls. But he will not admit that local government poll results impact on national elections.

Opposition leader Sheikh Hasina considers the CCC polls outcome as a reflection of the people's rejection to ruling alliance.

Present at the poll control room, the AL president's Political Secretary Saber Hossain Chowdhury told reporters that they were very happy with the victory. "We thank the people of Chittagong for their verdict for democracy after much of sacrifice."

He said the announcement of poll results were delayed with an "evil motive" but pressure of the people compelled the authorities to declare the outcome.

CCC Polls Result
ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury (Elected)
Votes - 350891
Mir Mohammad Nasir Uddin (Nearest rival)
Votes - 259410
BNP Rebel
AL Rebel
Total Ward

Three times elect CCC Mayor ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury greets his supporters at Laldighi Maidan yesterday. PHOTO: STAR