3173Published on June 27, 2018
According to the results from 416 out of 425 centers, the Awami League candidate Advocate Md. Jahangir Alam has won the Gazipur City Corporation (GCC) Mayor Election by securing 4 Lakh 10 votes, which is more than double the votes secured by his BNP rival Hasan Uddin Sarker who bagged 1 Lakh 97 Thousand 611 votes. This is an analysis of how the voting process unfolded, the results, and the reasons behind the landslide win of the Awami League candidate.
The Essential GCC Statistics
On 27 June 2018, 6 lakh 48 thousand 749 voters went to polls for electing the new Mayor and councilors of Gazipur City Corporation (GCC). The two main contenders for the position of Mayor were: Md Jahangir Alam from Bangladesh Awami League and Hasan Uddin Sarker from Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The voting started at 8.00 am amidst a festive mood in Gazipur, which for the last two weeks had seen spirited campaigns from both candidates, and continued till 4:00 pm without any break at 425 polling stations in 57 wards across the city corporation area.
According to the Returning Officer, the turnout in the voting centers was 57.02% of the total voters, which is slightly lower than the 63.69% votes cast in the last GCC polls held in 2013. A total of 6 lakh 30 thousand 111 votes were found valid and
18,638 were found invalid.
Three-tier security measures were taken to ensure security during the election as 10,500 members of law enforcement agencies, including police, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and Ansar, were deployed in the GCC area. A total of 29 platoons of BGB, 58 teams of RAB, 57 mobile forces and 20 striking forces of police performed their duties during the election.
Impact of Alleged Irregularities
Irregularities were alleged in 9 out of the 425 voting centers, where the voting was postponed as a result by the Election Commission (EC). Observers and media reports show that overall the voting was conducted in a free and fair manner without violence and intimidation of any sort. The number of voters in the 9 centers where voting was suspended is 23,959. Given that the number of votes received between the candidates is 2 Lakh 23 Thousand 99 votes (which is, in fact, more than the number of votes actually received by the BNP candidate), it is safe to say that even if all the votes in the 9 suspended centers went to the BNP candidate, the difference would still have been wide enough for a clear win.
Attempts to Manufacture Controversy
According to leaked audio conversations which resulted in the arrest of BNP’s Central Executive Committee leader Mizanur Rahman Mizan, it transpires that BNP hatched a plot to make the GCC election controversial by manufacturing unrest and violence. The conversations reveal that the plan was to use BNP men wearing Awami League badges, who would then be deployed in the city area to carry out jobs which would make the election appear rigged and biased in favour of Awami League.
BNP’s Polling Agents Scam
One of the main allegations raised yesterday by BNP as regards the GCC election was that their polling agents were driven out by Awami League activists from several polling centers. However, journalists stationed at several polling centers in Gazipur from morning till noon reported that BNP did not actually even send any polling agents to these centers. The same has been alleged by the Awami League mayor-elect Md Jahangir Alam who said he will furnish evidence of BNP not sending polling agents after the announcement of official results, as otherwise, he would be in breach of the electoral rules. In their reporting from 12 polling centers in GCC area, Bangla Tribune journalists found that only 2 had polling agents from BNP, while the rest had no BNP polling agents for the entire time they were stationed there.
Results Not Surprising
While the margin for Awami League’s win is substantial, the results, however, were not much surprising. Awami League was united as a party behind a candidate who commanded widespread popular support in Gazipur. On the other hand, analysts and observers believe that intra-party feud, organizational incapability and lack of popular support for the candidate were the main reasons behind the big loss of BNP in GCC polls is their own intra-party feud in that area. As a result of their party’s condition in Gazipur, BNP could not even station polling agents in all polling centers on Election Day.
The conspicuous absence of Advocate Abdul Mannan, former Gazipur CC Mayor from BNP, made it clear that BNP was not united behind their party-designated candidate. The difference between the youthful, vibrant and active candidate of Awami League compared with the frail BNP candidate was also being widely discussed on social media throughout the campaign trail. Voters, especially youths, connected more with Jahangir while Hasan Uddin failed to communicate his message to the target audience.