DNCC mayoral polls in late February

The Election Commission plans to hold the Dhaka North City Corporation mayoral by-polls in late February with the two major political parties expected to nominate candidates soon.

Some of the prospective mayoral contenders have already started mass contact to woo voters.

Talking to The Daily Star, several EC officials said the commission is likely to hold the polls on February 25.

“The Election Commission is making preparations to announce the schedule after resolving all the complications. The by-polls will be held on any suitable day after February 24,” acting EC secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed told journalists after a meeting with education officials yesterday.

The EC requested the education ministry and the education boards to defer SSC and equivalent examinations slated for February 24 and 25.

The SSC and equivalent exams are set to begin from February 1. According to the schedule, tests for geography and environment are to be held on February 24, and the practical exam on music the following day.

“The chairmen of the boards for secondary and higher secondary, madrasa and technical education said they have no problem in this regard. They will set fresh exam dates after the announcement of the polls schedule,” said Helal.

Contacted, Dhaka Education Board Chairman Mahabubur Rahman said, “We told them [EC officials] that it is very much possible to reschedule the exams, as the matter [DNCC polls] is of national importance. They said they will inform us about it in mid-February.”

The mayoral post fell vacant following the death of DNCC Mayor Annisul Huq on November 30. As per the electoral laws, the by-polls for the post must be held within 90 days of its falling vacant.

On December 1, the Local Government Division declared the post vacant.

The ruling Awami League is likely to nominate Atiqul Islam, ex-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, as its candidate, while the BNP is expected to pick party leader Tabith Awal, who had contested the previous election with its support.

Atiqul told this correspondent that he already started exchanging views with voters, and that he visited 12 of the 54 DNCC wards.

“I got green signal from the Awami League. But I will formally launch campaign after getting nomination. I am making all-out preparations for contesting the polls,” he said.

Tabith could not be contacted as he is now abroad.

Asked, his father and BNP Vice Chairman Abdul Awal Mintoo said, “Tabith is young and energetic. He knows well about the city. Besides, He did well in the previous election. I do not see any reason for choosing someone else as candidate.”

The businessman also said that an educated and energetic candidate like Tabith should get the party nomination for bringing a drastic change to the mega city.

Talking to this correspondent, a number of Jatiya Party leaders said the party would not nominate anyone for the mayoral post, and it is likely to extend support to the AL candidate.

Contacted, JP Co-chairman GM Quader said the party is yet to decide on contesting the by-polls.

He, however, said it was highly unlikely that the JP would field a candidate for the mayoral post.

Meanwhile, Bobby Hajjaj, chairman of the newly formed party Nationalist Democratic Movement, nominated singer Shafin Ahmed as its candidate for the DNCC mayoral by-polls.

He made the announcement at a press conference at the Jatiya Press club with Shafin at his side.

In reply to a query, Shafin said, “I have already started campaigning… I will share my future plans with the voters. I hope everybody will support me.”

In terms of population, the DNCC is the country’s largest city corporation with 23.45 lakh voters.

In the previous election on April 28, 2015, BNP-backed mayoral candidate Tabith boycotted the polls halfway on the voting day, bringing allegations of widespread rigging.

In November 2011, the AL-led government split the Dhaka City Corporation into two.

The first election to the undivided DCC was held in January 1994, and Mohammad Hanif became the first elected mayor.