The forthcoming Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) elections, scheduled for June 21, will likely have a significant impact on the city’s political landscape and future trajectory.
The Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) elections is scheduled to take place on June 21 in 1,173 booths in 155 centers, using Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) from 8 am to 4 pm. With 352,157 registered voters, including 171,185 men and 180,977 women, the elections in the city corporation hold great significance.
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Three candidates representing various political parties are vying for the opportunity to lead and influence the city’s development in the mayoral election. Candidates are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to communicate with voters and garner support as election campaigns intensify. Manifestos determining their visions and promises in multiple sectors have been unveiled, giving Rajshahi’s citizens a glimpse of the potential future under their leadership.
Candidates in RCC elections
There are three mayoral candidates, 111 general councilors and 46 women councilors in reserved seats in 30 wards of the RCC elections.
The mayoral candidates are- Bangladesh Awami League nominated candidate and former mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton (boat), Jatiya Party candidate Saiful Islam Swapan (plough), and Jaker Party Latif Anwar (rose).
Islamic Andolon Bangladesh has boycotted the mayoral election and the mayoral candidate from the party, Murshid Islam has withdrawn from the candidacy, although he was participating in the campaigns with full force.
Symbols were allocated among the contenders in the upcoming election of Rajshahi City Corporation on June 3.
Campaigns of mayoral candidates are going in full swing
After receiving their respective party symbols on June 3, the candidates for the Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) elections, scheduled for June 21, began their campaigns.
AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, the Awami League’s candidate for mayor in the Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) election, has released a manifesto containing 105 promises in 10 sectors. His promises include developments in education, health care, industry and commerce, transportation and infrastructure, sports and cultural activities, climate and entertainment facilities, and more, as well as social initiatives.
“If re-elected, I want to ensure modern civic facilities through the construction of widened roads, improved drainage, decorative street light, parks, schools, colleges, graveyards, and Eidgah in the expanded areas,” he said
He also intends to increase the area of Rajshahi city, make it a premier tourism destination, and construct a river city on the Padma River’s chars. For development purposes, Liton has proposed the construction of flyovers and the reclamation of char land. In addition, he plans to prioritize the creation of an agricultural university and additional educational institutions. The creation of approximately 50,000 employment opportunities through small and medium-sized businesses is another major focus of his manifesto.
Mohammad Saiful Islam, the Jatiya Party candidate, has been engaging the public in wards 16, 18, 19, and 27. Similarly, Latif Anwar, the Jaker Party candidate, has been spotted attending party gatherings in various locations as part of his campaign. He has sought the prayers, support, and affection of the people in the RCC mayoral election.
Lesser-known candidates face tough competition
Both Saiful Islam and Latif Anwar are relatively unknown to the local voters, resulting in a lack of visibility in their election campaigns. They are not generating much buzz in the neighborhoods and areas where voter discussions take place, and their leaflets and posters are rarely seen. Moreover, the majority of electors are unaware of the Jaker Party’s office location.
In addition, the Jatiya Party has struggled to gather its leaders and employees for effective campaigning due to intense internal conflicts. According to a number of voters, the election seems to be focused on the contest between Khairuzzaman Liton, the Awami League’s mayoral candidate, and his opponents.
Since the day of party nominations, Khairuzzaman Liton, along with party leaders and employees, has been actively present on the campaign trail for the Rajshahi City Corporation elections. They maintain contact with local voters from early morning until late at night, leaving a significant impression. Reports suggest that a considerable portion of voters from the BNP-Jamaat stronghold areas show a leaning toward voting for Khairuzzaman Liton.
BNP expels 16 party leaders for participating in RCC elections
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) expelled 16 leaders for life because they defied the party’s decision to boycott all elections under the current government by running in the forthcoming Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) elections. Previously, BNP expelled the leaders from the party for life in light of the candidates’ refusal to comply with the party’s decision in Gazipur, Khulna, Barisal, and Sylhet, where similar organizational measures were proposed.
In this sequence, Rajshahi also ordered the expulsion of 16 leaders from the party.
“Letters have been sent to take organizational action against 16 members of the party. Besides, many other supporters also contested for the councilor posts. But they were not named in the letter as they do not have a specific post within the party. However, local organizational measures are being taken against them,” said local BNP member Mostafa Mamun on June 5.
In a letter signed by Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, senior joint secretary general of BNP, the expulsion of certain individuals from the party was announced. The letter states that they have been expelled for life due to their disregard for the party’s decision.
On June 8, Rajshahi Metropolitan BNP sent a letter, signed by Convener Advocate Ershad Ali Isha and Member Secretary Mamun-or-Rashid, to the party’s central committee, urging organizational action against the candidates.
Despite these developments, several BNP leaders are still participating in the upcoming Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) election. A total of 12 BNP leaders are contesting for general councillor positions, and three are vying for reserved women councilor positions. Among them, five are competing for general councilor positions, and two are running for reserved women councilor positions.
Election preparations included mock elections to familiarize voters with EVMs
In preparation for the upcoming Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) polls, a mock election was conducted on June 2 to familiarize voters with the use of EVMs. The mock election took place in all 30 wards, and the local voters displayed great enthusiasm in participating. Symbols were allocated to candidates, and two booths were set up to educate people about EVMs. The process of voting through EVMs was described as simple but potentially intimidating for some due to its novelty. New voters who took part in the mock vote found the method to be straightforward and easy to learn by observation.
Election Commission determined to maintain fairness in RCC elections
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Kazi Habibul Awal has assured the impartial operation of law enforcement agencies under the guidance of the Election Commission during a meeting at Rajshahi Shilpakala Academy. He emphasized the Commission’s commitment to a free and fair election, warning of firm action against violations of the electoral code of conduct.
“Our objective is to ensure a free and fair election that offers equal opportunities to all candidates,” he said.
Moreover, the Election Commissioner, Rasheda Sultana, expressed the Election Commission’s desire to present the Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) polls as an exemplary election.
“There is no alternative to holding free and fair elections. We want to highlight the Rajshahi City Corporation election as an ideal one,” she said.
She also urged the presiding officers not to be impatient with the voters and the tough situation during the polls. The election commissioner said that candidature for the election of RCC will be cancelled if anyone violates the code of conduct.
To ensure transparency, CCTV cameras will be installed at polling places and media coverage will be monitored. The Election Commission has pledged to remain vigilant against fraudulent activities and to strive for a seamless election process.
To conclude, the upcoming Rajshahi City Corporation elections are vital for the city’s residents, as they will determine the city’s future leadership. With active campaigning, challenges for lesser-known candidates, and measures to ensure a fair election, all eyes are on Rajshahi as voters would cast their vote on June 21 and await the election results.