Barishal City Corporation election is scheduled to take place on June 12. The schedule of the election was announced by the Election Commission of Bangladesh on 29 March 2023. Ahead the election, the candidates from different parties have been given nominations. Although intra conflict plays a role in the upcoming election, the Election Commission has been being strict about ensuring a proper and fair election just like Gazipur’s latest election.
In this year’s city election, the total number of voters in 126 polling stations in 30 wards is 2 lakh 76 thousand 298 people. Among them, 1 lakh 38 thousand 809 are female voters and 1 lakh 37 thousand 489 are male voters.
A total of 165 candidates are contesting the election. There are 7 candidates for the post of mayor, 116 councilor candidates of 30 wards in the city and 42 women candidates for the 10 reserved councilor posts who have been selected for the upcoming election in Barishal.
Voting for Barishal City Corporation election will be held in 894 rooms of 126 centers.
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Let’s have a look at the City Corporation election of Barishal and how the preparations are going-
Who are the mayor candidates?
Symbols have been allocated among the seven mayoral candidates for the upcoming Barishal City Corporation election on 26th May, 2023. Returning Officer Humayun Kabir had distributed the symbols at the regional election officer’s office at Natullabad in the city on Friday morning.
In the upcoming polls, Awami League (AL) supported ‘boat’ symbol was given to candidate Abul Khair Abdullah. The rest of the mayoral candidates and their earned symbols are: Jatiya Party’s Iqbal Hossain Taposh (plough), Islami Andolan Bangladesh’s Mufti Syed Mohammad Faizul Karim (hand fan), Zaker Party’s Mizanur Rahman Bachchu (rose flower), independent candidates Kamrul Ahsan Rupom (table clock), Asaduzzaman (elephant) and Ali Hossain Howlader (deer).
Besides, symbols have also been allocated among 116 councilor candidates and 42 women candidates.
How is the preparation going?
The campaigning for the city corporation election started on the same day after the candidates were finalized. The city corporation has been witnessing the vibe of festivity along with candidate’s attempt to influence the votes and voters. Mic campaigns are allowed everyday from 2 pm to 8 pm by following the election conducts.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission has appointed 10 executive magistrates to keep the polling situation normal and to uphold the code of conduct. They will serve in the assigned ward till June 10.
Besides, Assistant Returning Officers will also monitor the constituencies to enforce the code of conduct.
BNP candidates ignoring party decision
BNP candidates seems to be disobeying party decision as 21 former and present leaders and workers of BNP and allied organizations are taking part in the mayor and councilor posts in Barishal City Corporation elections.
The central leadership of BNP has decided not to participate in the upcoming city elections as a party for the post of mayor or councillor. Although councilor posts are not elected on party symbols, the party has been telling the leaders and workers not to contest the elections since the beginning of the city elections. If any candidate disobeys the decision, he/she has been warned of lifelong expulsion from the party. However, many leaders and workers of BNP have entered the election battle.
In Barishal City, no leader of BNP has been nominated for the post of mayor. However, Kamrul Ahsan, son of the party’s late mayor Ahsan Habib, has become an independent candidate. The leaders of the city are facing many questions about this. Kamrul is the central leader of Chhatra Dal.
Moreover, according to the party sources, the top leaders of the city tried to withdraw their candidature by explaining the councilor candidates in various ways, but the candidates did not pay heed to them.
The BNP leaders who participated in the polls are- Syed Habibur Rahman Farooq, Habibur Rahman Tipu, Salim Howlader, Harun Or Rashid, Syed Humayun Kabir Linku, Chiddikur Rahman, Jaber Abdullah Sadi, Ziaul Haque, Kazi Md. Shaheen, Manik Islam, Shah Aminul Islam Amin, Jasmine Samad Shilpi, Firoz Ahmed and Farid Ahmed.
Intra party conflict of Awami League
Conflicts within the Awami League emerged during the nomination process for the Barishal City Corporation election. Incidents of intimidation and violence were reported against leaders and activists supporting Abul Khair Abdullah, leading to tensions within the party. The general secretary of the nominated Barishal City Committee and supporters of the incumbent mayor, Sadiq Abdullah, were accused of intimidating and assaulting Abdullah’s supporters. A case was filed against Nagar Chhatra League convenor Raees Ahmed for allegedly beating three workers of Abul Khair Abdullah. These conflicts exposed the deepening rift between Khair Abdullah and Sadiq Abdullah’s factions within the Awami League.
Although, the intra conflict now seems to be overcoming as Abul Hasanat Abdullah, the President of Barishal District Awami League and Member of Parliament for Barishal-1 constituency, called for unity and support for Awami League candidate Abul Khair Abdullah in the upcoming election. He emphasized the importance of working together to ensure victory for the party’s candidate, despite his son Sadiq Abdullah not being nominated for mayor and bitter relation between Sadiq Abdullah and Abul Khair Abdullah.
CEC determined to ensure free and fair election
The election commission wants to hold a fair election in Barishal City Corporation (BCC) with coordinated effort from all, said Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal.
If someone breaks the rules during Barishal City Corporation elections, the candidates have to try to resist it. There will be a presiding officer to whom their polling agents can complain, said the CEC.
“If the presiding officer neglects his duty, we will take strict action against him. You (candidates) also have to perform your duties well,” he said while addressing a meeting with the candidates in the upcoming Barishal City Corporation election.
“Gazipur city election is an example of how the presiding officers will perform their duties properly. The presiding officers performed their duties fairly well. If we get complaints that voters could not go to the centre, could not cast vote, there were ‘mastans’ (miscreants) in the centre who resisted them, then the election will be questioned,” added the CEC.
“The polling agents and you (candidates) will have to resist equally inside. If you (candidates) show power and say I have to vote, then democracy will be destroyed. If elected, there will be no support from the people. So the call is that you will try to develop democracy in a healthy way,” the CEC said.
He also announced that CCTV cameras will be installed at all the polling stations in Barishal like Gazipur.