Voting ends in Sylhet, Rajshahi cities

An election officer marks the left hand thumb of a voter with a permanent marker after ballot casting during the Sylhet City Corporation election in Nasiba Khatum Girls High School centre in Sylhet on 21 June 2023.
Tanvir Ahammed

Voting in the elections to Sylhet and Rajshahi city corporations ended on Wednesday afternoon. Voting began 8:00 am and continued uninterruptedly until 4:00 pm.

Elections in both city corporations were held peacefully with several stray incidents. Voter turnout was low in both cities. In Sylhet, 20 per cent votes were cast in the first 5 hours. Visiting several polling stations in Rajshahi, Prothom Alo correspondents found 26-33 per cent votes were cast.

Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) was used in all the polling centres of the two city corporations in the election. Technical glitch was reported in several centres with voters expressing dissatisfaction on EVMs.

According to sources of the returning office, the total number of voters in the Sylhet City Corporation is 487,753 in the 42 wards. A total of 368 candidates including eight mayoral candidates contested the election. There are 190 polling stations while law enforcement agencies declared 132 of those centers as risky.

The mayoral candidates are – ruling Awami League nominated Anwaruzzaman Chowdhury, Jatiya Party’s Nazrul Islam, and Zaker Party’s Zahirul Alam. Four independent candidates are also contesting the polls. They are – Abdul Hanif, Salah Uddin, Shah Jaman Mia and Mostaq Ahmed Rauf Mostafa.

Islami Andolan Bangladesh’s candidate withdrew his candidature from the SCC polls following the attack on the party’s mayoral candidate in the Barishal city elections a few days ago.

The area of Rajshahi City Corporation is 96.72 sq km. A total of 161 candidates contested the election. Of them, three for mayor, 112 for general councilors in 30 wards and 46 for 10 reserved seats for women councilors.

There are 351,982 voters in the city – 171,167 male, 180,809 female and six third gender voters.

The mayoral candidates are: Bangladesh Awami League nominated and former mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, Jatiya Party candidate Saiful Islam Swapan and Zaker Party’s Latif Anwar.

In Rajshahi, clashes broke out between the supporters of two counsellor candidates in city’s Bheripara intersection in the afternoon, turning the area into a battleground. Law enforcement agencies, however, brought the situations under control. Tension prevailed for about an hour with voters leaving the area out of panic.

Awami League mayoral candidate AHM Khairuzzaman Liton cast his ballot in the city’s Satellite Town High School centre. Later he told journalists BNP made a mistake by not participating in this election.

On low voter turnout, he said presence of voters would increase and he also expect at least 60 per cent voter turnout.

In Sylhet, Awami League mayoral candidate Anwaruzzaman Chowdhury cast his ballot at Shahjalal Jamea Islamia Kamil Madrashah centre in the city’s ward No 8.

After ballot casting, he said, “I am very optimistic about victory.”

Jatiya Party candidate Saiful Islam Swapan cast his ballot at the city’s Ananonda Niketon polling centre. There is no congenial atmosphere to hold a fair election, he said adding, “When I came to cast ballot at Ananonda Niketon centre I saw muscle power is being used here.”

Agents of Jatiya Party candidate were not seen at many polling centre. All mayoral candidates except Jatiya Party candidate Nazrul Islam and independent candidate M Salah Uddin Rimon expressed satisfaction over polls. They said voting was fair and they had no allegation over it.