Apprehensions surround UP 2nd phase elections
Amid fears of violence and polling irregularities, the second phase balloting in the Union Parishad elections is set to take place in 639 UPs of 82 Upazilas spread across 47 of the country’s 64 districts on today.
The balloting began at 8am and will continue till 4pm without any break.
As many as 31 chairman candidates, all from ruling Awami League, have already been elected unopposed finding no rival against their respective posts in the 2nd phase.
Of the 31 chairman posts that went uncontested, 14 are in Gopalganj, six in Joypurhat, three in Jessore, two in each Dhaka and Madaripur, one each in Kishoreganj and Munshiganj, Sherpur and Sirajganj.
According to the statistics provided by the Election Commission on Wednesday, a total of 2662 chairman contenders, including some 1493 from 17 political parties and 1169 independent candidates are in the election races in the UPs.
Candidates from two major political parties — ruling Awami League and its archrival BNP — start as frontrunners in the election. But BNP has no chairman candidate in 79 UPs whereas AL has candidates in all 639 UPs.
HM Ershad-led Jatiya Party has fielded chairman candidates in only 149 UPs, while Islami Andolan Bangladesh in 94 Ups, Jasod in 24 UPs, CPB in five and other parties in less than five UPs.
Besides, there are some 6,498 women candidates for reserved seats and over 21,259 contenders for member posts in the phase.
Election Commissioner Shah Nawaz on Wednesday warned that the Commission will take action if any law enforcer or vote-casting official shows negligence in performing their election duty.
The commission has taken measures to arrange the remaining UP polls in fair manner, he said.
Replying to a question about huge casualties in polls violence, Shah Nawaz said people are responsible for their own lives. The Election Commission, or election- or vote-casting officials are not responsible for their killings.
It’s difficult to check local-level fighting between two localities, he added.
A total of five magistrates – four executive and one judicial- remain deployed in each upazila to curb violation of election code of conduct.
Alongside the magistrates, a number of teams of Police, Rab and BGB are working as mobile and striking forces in each upazila to maintain electoral environment for the four days.
For each coastal upazila, members of Coast Guard remain as mobile force and striking force.
Meanwhile, a 19-member security team comprising five policemen, 14 Ansar/VDP members is protecting each vulnerable polling centre, while a 17-member team comprising three policemen and 14 Ansar/VDP members is guarding each normal polling station.
Earlier on March 22, the first phase election in 712 UPs was held amid polls violence and irregularities.
The EC so far announced the election schedule for the first four phases as part of its plan to arrange elections in 4275 out of the country’s 4546 UPs in six phases by June next.