Published: Sunday, June 16, 2013

Four-Zero

BNP-backed mayor aspirants triumph over AL-blessed rivals in four city polls

Four-Zero

BNP-backed mayoral candidates scored a resounding victory in elections to the four city corporations, defeating their ruling Awami League-supported rivals, in a high-voltage, peaceful battle of ballots held peacefully yesterday.
In Rajshahi City Corporation, Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul’s win has brought the BNP leader back to the helm of the city after a gap of five years. BNP-supported candidates had previously won mayoral polls in 1994 and 2002.
AL favourite AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, who was elected mayor in 2008, lost to Bulbul by a margin of 47,332 votes.
The election to Khulna City Corporation saw the return of a local BNP leader to the mayoral post after five years.
BNP favourite Moniruzzaman Mony beat AL-backed Talukder Abdul Khaleque by 60,671 votes in Khulna. Khaleque secured the mayoralty in 2008 by defeating Mony. Khaleque’s win had ended a long run of BNP leader Sheikh Tayebur Rahman, who was elected mayor in 1994 and 2002.
In both Barisal and Sylhet, BNP-backed mayoral candidates defeated their rivals by 17,010 votes and 35,157 votes.
In Barisal, Ahsan Habib Kamal sealed his victory over AL-backed Shawkat Hossain Hiron, who had won the mayoralty in the 2008 polls. Before that, BNP leader and lawmaker Mujibur Rahman Sarwar was elected in 2003 as the first mayor of the city corporation.
In an instant reaction last night, Kamal said he would have won by a greater margin if the polls had been held in a completely free and fair manner.

Women queue up at Nirala Primary School polling centre in Khulna to cast their votes in the city corporation elections yesterday. Photo: Rashed Shumon

Women queue up at Nirala Primary School polling centre in Khulna to cast their votes in the city corporation elections yesterday. Photo: Rashed Shumon

In Sylhet, BNP favourite Ariful Haque Chowdhury has done exactly what AL-backed Khaleque did in Khulna in 2008. Arif’s win ended the long rule of Badruddin Ahmed Kamran, who had served as mayor since the formation of Sylhet City Corporation in 2002. Before his election as city mayor in 2003, he had been elected chief of Sylhet municipality.
Liton, Khaleque, Hiron and Kamran resigned as mayors of the four city corporations to contest the polls. They were elected mayors in August 2008, a few months before the ninth parliamentary election. Their triumph had boosted the morale of the AL, which went on to secure a landslide victory at the 2008 parliamentary polls.
Yesterday’s voting made it clear that people in the four city corporations had opted for change at the helm in their cities.
Though non-partisan in nature, the polls appeared to be a battle of prestige for both the ruling and the opposition alliance ahead of the parliamentary election due in a few months’ time.
Buoyed by the victory, the main opposition leaders yesterday claimed people had voted in favour of the opposition’s demand for a non-partisan government to oversee the parliamentary elections.
Both the alliances’ nerves were on edge throughout the day over the elections.
The main opposition monitored the polls from the capital, and rushed to the Election Commission office in Dhaka many a time to lodge complaints.
The results came as a major setback for the AL-led ruling alliance. Its leaders, however, claimed it had again been proved that free and fair elections were possible under the AL-led government.
Earlier in the day, Communications Minister Obaidul Quader, who is a presidium member of the AL, said, “The party that will face defeat in the city corporation polls will have a warning ahead of the next parliamentary elections.”
Elections to eight city corporations have been held so far in the tenure of the present government. AL-backed mayoral aspirants were defeated in all these elections with the exception of the Rangpur City Corporation polls.
BNP-backed mayoral candidates won in six cities. AL leader Selina Hayat Ivy, who contested Narayanganj city corporation polls without her party’s support, won the battle by defeating the AL-backed mayoral aspirant.
The turnout in yesterday’s vote was reported high. It was around 73 percent in Barisal, around 69 percent in Khulna, around 76 percent in Rajshahi and around 73 percent in Sylhet. The presence of female voters in the polling centres was remarkable.
There were a few untoward incidents, but all mayoral candidates were satisfied with the election environment.
In Khulna, a jute mill worker died following law enforcers’ action on Islami Andolan Bangladesh activists, who had brought out a procession in violation of election rules.

  • Saleh Tanveer

    Looks like each time a party is put in power with an overwhelming majority, its leaders keep misreading the public who wreak an electoral vengeance on the ruling party after being fed up by their excesses and misrule. Will Sk. Hasina understand the public mood when she gets thrashed in the upcoming election, if a fair one is held, or will she wrap herself in some conspiracy theories like she did in 2002, or worse, seek an electoral victory by any means.

  • Iftekhar Hassan

    Idea of human freedom have just spoken !

  • Zillur Rahman

    Wake up call for Bangladesh Awami League

  • Sara

    and this happens more if there is a landslide victory, as in 2001 and 2008… the finance minister was correct when he said (in 2008/09) that overwhelming majority for a single party was injurious to health in the political situation of the country

  • Reazuddin

    Congratulations to BNP. At least they are now branded as party for democracy, for freedom of speech and above all tolerance.

  • WaliulHaqueKhondker

    The Election Commission as a vital Institution of the State has been rehabilitated after long 40 years! Kudos to Awami League Government!

  • Samih34

    Let’s look at it in a positive manner instead of having hurt burn! In the manner both the winning & the loosing mayors have facilitated each other & promised all out co-operations, the senior/junior political leaders of two major political parties – particularly the two chiefs may want to learn some political antiquate that these guys have shown!

  • sl_jay1946

    Lets hope that, since ample time and scope is there the AL will Amend its ways and refrain from resorting to; arrogant,callous, naked brute force to terrorize the Nation and further alienate the Voters. BNP MUST also realize that, positives galore AL Policy must not whither in the interim period before 2013 Elections.Especially the War Crimes Trial is essential to reach its logical conclusion with Hangings!!!

  • cernventure

    Yea, the land is prospering in her important sectors of power grabbing through Islamic fanatics like Hefajat, Jamat-e -Islami and the others raising others fundamental religious groups .Who will shun this neo -terrorism in deceitful way through dark night?

    • Sara

      Something like that was happening with JMB, but came to a crashing halt in 2006. Since then former JMB operatives left or were disillusioned. This neo-terrorism still has long way to go before becoming reality. Bangladesh is no where near becoming Afghan or Paki.

  • cernventure

    Even a child can say that BD will find some new leaders and all dust must be driven away through their shiny intellectuality . About 42 years has gone out and how much change has come in this land . She has got terrorism, land grabber , fanatics , temple and Quarn burner , supporter of Pakistan in heart (sometimes in publicly in the name of religion this is not a romanticism in BD where still in 2013 some people see man in moon where others can not).

  • Saleh Tanveer

    If past is any reflection, I would not raise my hopes that high. As long as people think that they have to vote for one of the two major parties as the lesser evil, our slide towards completely dysfunctional politics will continue.

  • Sara

    No, don’t agree. Religion based politics was more influential in the last 40 years but Jamaat never won without BNP, they cannot get enough votes… All the mayor elected are from BNP. In Shahbagh, common people participated, including madrassa students. Literacy levels are ever increasing and more and more people have social media access like Facebook, so earning votes by only associating with religion will become increasingly harder.

    • truthprevails53

      I hope so Sara, how many people have access to internet let alone Facebook in Bangladesh? I do hope that you are right.

      • Sara

        Example of Facebook penetration: Ramu incident. People over a relatively vast region were mobilized by a fake Facebook post. More and more people are using mobiles that are making it cheaper to access internet, where Facebook is the most popular site for common people.

  • Sara

    1. Simultaneous bombings all over the country and grenade attack on Hasina happened when JMB was active. Since the dismantling of JMB, there has been zero terrorist bombing targeted to kill civilians indiscriminately (targeted bombings have occurred, even at Dipu Moni’s residence).

    2. Attack on minorities (except at Ramu) were intended as retaliation to Shahbagh by an even smaller fanatic minority.

    3. Maltreatment at public places represent unawareness and deficiency in teachings of respect, but not terrorist mentality.

    4. Jamat and Hefazat possibly do not have any proper weapons cache to pose a serious threat, unlike Taleban which took over Kabul in 1996 through military might.

    5. In Pakistan, vast stretches of land are not in proper government control. In Bangladesh, only small areas of the hill tracts and previously Bangla-bhai controlled-regions were outside government control.

  • Sara

    Counting number of people is impractical. I will look at some indicators instead – increased literacy rate since 1971, increased exposure due to internet, increased average income leading to subsequent demand for personal freedom, very large participation at Shahbagh that spread throughout the country, several recent revolutions in Arab countries, condemnation of Hefazat now and JMB previously, etc. It will take a lot f work for religious political parties to gain ground.

  • WaliulHaqueKhondker

    I personally think Sheikh Hasina should now opt for a CTG. Because after about six years, she won’t have to fight for one! :)