A festive mood has gripped this city a day before its first city corporation polls.
Rangpur’s civic body was upgraded to a City Corporation this year. Voters are therefore expectedly enthusiastic and keen to exercise their ballot.
The city’s grapevine is abuzz with speculations about who will be Rangpur’s Mayor. However, in view of the uncertain national situation, tension prevails here and the administration says it had arranged for tight security.
Police patrols were frequent.
Public transport was barred from polling zones from Monday midnight and only police, media and mobile court vehicles are allowed.
The restrictions will also not apply to Ambulances, fire services, power, post, telecommunications and City Corporation vehicles.
Aspirants for the position of city Mayor have finished their campaign by the prescribed Tuesday midnight.
Nagarik Committee candidate Shorfuddin Ahmed Jhantu (with motor-cycle symbol) and newly formed Trinamul Jatiya Party District Convenor Mostafizur Rahman Mostafa (duck symbol) have emerged as front-runners among the twelve contestants.
Kazi Majirul Islam Liton of Nagarik Mancha, Abdul Kuddus of Socialist Party of Bangladesh (SPB), ATM Golam Mostafa Babu of Islami Andolon Bangladesh, Safiur Rahman Saki, Firoz Kabir Chwodhury, Farukh Aziz Shaheen, Ali Haider Dulu and Mehedi Hassan Boni are the other contenders.
BNP has stayed away from this election. Jatiya Party Chairman Hussein Muhammad Ershad also withdrew at the last minute.
Awami League leader Shorfuddin Ahmed Jhantu says he would, if elected, try to turn Rangpur into a beautiful planned city.
He promised not to impose taxes on any ward (in the City Corporation area) without first developing it.
“We will march for gas supply if I win… will complete the four lane road project. I will have a leading role in establishing a Higher Secondary College with efforts from City Corporation,” said Jhanty.
He hoped to win by a large margin.
Another candidate Mostafizur Rahman Mostafa claimed his chances were bright. “This time there would be a revolution in voting… If I am elected I will seek to build a modern and resourceful city.”
On the other hand Jatiya Party district and metropolitan level leaders have directed activists not to vote for the lately ousted Mostafa.
“Ershad has ousted him for disregarding party rules.” Jatiyo party leader Ranga said.
But Mostafa is unfazed and says his supporters will not listen to “anyone”.
According to Returning and Regional Polling Officers Office officials, 317 candidates were competing for General Counsellors in the 33 wards and 91 were competing for the reserved 11 women Counsellor positions. Among the 357,742 voters, 179,128 were male and 178,614 were female.
A total of 178 polling stations were set up the 33 wards. 104 of them were identified as sensitive.
Returning and Regional Polling Officer Monirul Islam told bdnews24.com all preparations were complete for a free, fair and peaceful election. He said the centres were covered by a security blanket from Tuesday midnight.
Assistant Returning official Nuruzzaman Talukder said 300 RAB (Rapid Action Battalion), 4,124 Police and Ansar, two platoons of BGB (Border Guard of Bangladesh), 45 Executive Magistrates, six Judicial Magistrates, 12 Assistant Returning Officers and assistant officials and one inspection team of the Election Commission were around to hold a peaceful and free election.
One Executive Magistrate would be permanently stationed in each centre and the vigilance team will constitute of the 12 Executive Magistrates. 50 centres would be monitored using web cameras and the four stations of ward no-4 would be using EVM (Electronic Voting Machine).
Rangpur was upgraded to a City Corporation on Jun 28 this year. The Corporation covers 203 square kilometres and has been divided into 33 wards.
Rangpur Additional Divisional Commissioner Kazi Hassan Ahmed, the city’s first Administrator, told bdnews24.com he expected the new Mayor would visibly improve civic facilities.