Jatiya Party candidate Mostafizur Rahman Mostafa was unofficially elected Rangpur city mayor defeating ruling Awami League candidate Sharfuddin Ahmed Jhantu, also the outgoing mayor, in the second civic polls in Rangpur city on Thursday that saw 74.30 per cent turnout of voters.
Five years ago, Sharfuddin Jhantu was elected the first Rangpur city mayor defeating Mostafizur.
According to the unofficial results announced by returning officer Subhash Chandra Sarker at Rangpur Police Community Hall, Mostafizur bagged 1,60,489 votes while Sharfuddin Jhantu polled 62,400 and Bangladesh Nationalist Party candidate Kawsar Zaman Babla got 35,136 votes.
The election to Rangpur City Corporation was held in a peaceful manner excepting some allegations raised by opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party candidate.
People exercised their franchise peacefully in a festive mood amid four-tier security arrangements with the deployment of 5,550 law enforcers.
Voters, candidates, election officials expressed their satisfaction.
BNP candidate, however, at a press conference at the party’s local office at about 9:30pm said that he rejected the results alleging that the election was a planed game of ruling Awami League and the Election Commission.
The returning officer said that the turnout of voter was 74.30 per cent in the election, in which 3,93,994 voters, 1,96,356 male and 197,638 female, had registered for casting their vote in 33 wards of Rangpur city.
Before the completion of the vote counting, at a post-poll press conference in Dhaka, AL general secretary Obaidul Quader congratulated Jatiya Party candidate Mostafizur for his ‘victory’ in the Rangpur mayoral polls.
The polls began at 8:00am in the sunny day and continued until 4:00pm without break as no incident of irregularities was reported.
BNP candidate Kawsar, however, alleged that AL activists forcibly ousted his polling agents from Fatehpur Government Primary School and Deawantoli Government Primary School polling stations.
He also said that voting was halted at EVM-run polling station at Government Begum Rokeya College for unknown reasons.
Returning officer of the polling station Suvash Chandra Sarker denied the allegations saying that voting was held peacefully and neutrally.
Besides, at a press conference in Dhaka, BNP senior joint-secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi accused the chief election commissioner and Rangpur local administration of implementing government blueprint to declare the candidate of the ruling party or its ‘grand alliance’ elected in the mayoral polls.
He said that activists of the Awami League and the ‘grand alliance’ and officials on duty were driving out BNP polling agents from the polling stations.
He alleged that attempts were made to grab Fatehpur school and Deudoba polling stations while ‘Awami goons’ obstructed voters from casting vote and stuffed ballots in the boxes for some time at Kellabond polling station.
He said that the Rangpur city polls could not be held in free, fair and neutral manner because of the failure of the subservient Election Commission.
Chief election commission KM Nurul Huda denied the allegations.
‘We have information from the local level. Voters didn’t come up with any complaint. So, the BNP’s allegation doesn’t seem to be authentic,’ he told reporters at Nirbachan Bhaban in Dhaka.
Expressing satisfaction over the overall election situation, Nurul Huda said the EC planned to use Electronic Voting Machine in the election carefully and there had been no problem in using it.
‘We also have a plan to use EVM in the next local elections on a small scale,’ he said.
In Rangpur, Jatiya Party chairman HM Ershad said that the election was a test for the commission to prove its capability to hold free and fair polls.
He made the remark after casting his vote at Senpara Primary School polling station at about 9:00am.
‘I hope that the poll will be held in free and fair manner and Jatiya Party candidate will win the election with a huge margin,’ he added.
Seven candidates contested for the mayoral seat, while 276 contested for the positions of councillor and 65 contested for the positions of councillors for 11 reserved seats for women.
Incumbent mayor Sharfuddin cast his vote at the Salema Girls’ High School 24 at 10:00am.
‘Voting has been fair. If voting continues in this way, I will win. I will accept the decision of the people,’ he told reports.
Jatiya Party’s Mostafizur cast his vote at the Alamnagar College Road Government Primary School centre at about 9:30am.
‘I will accept people’s verdict, it has been a peaceful and fair vote,’ he said.
BNP candidate cast his vote at 8:45am at the Dewantuli Government Primary School centre.
‘We have expressed our concern regarding the polls from the beginning and we are still worried. If there is no fraud and the vote is fair, we will accept the decision of the people,’ he told reporters.
Human Rights and Social Development Association chairman Golam Rhaman Bhuyia told New Age that the polling was held peacefully and impartially.
He said that voters cast their vote amid festive mood.
On December 20, 2012, the first ever Rangpur city polls were held in which AL-backed Sharfuddin was elected as the first mayor.
Sharfuddin had bagged 106,255 votes while Mostafizur polls 77,835 and Jatiya Party-backed AKM Abdur Rouf Manik got 37,208 votes and BNP-backed Kawsar Zaman Babla received 21,235 votes.