The much-hyped Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC) elections take place today with the ruling Awami League and some other tiny parties confronting each other in a direct electoral fray.
Main opposition parties, including Jatiya Party and BNP, boycotted the local-government polls which are being held in a partisan manner.
Some seven candidates have been contesting the NCC mayoral elections.
Voters have hoped that the main contest will take place between Awami League candidate Dr Selina Hayat Ivy’s Boat symbol and independent candidate Taimur Alam Khandaker’s Elephant symbol.
Taimur Alam has been expelled from the post of BNP for his contest in the polls, defying the party discipline.
BNP has decided to boycott any polls under the AL tenure, alleging that elections cannot be held in free and fair manner under the present regime.
Both the contenders are hopeful of their victory in the NCC mayoral polls after several weeks of hectic campaigns in a festive atmosphere.
Besides the mayoral candidates, some 180 other candidates -- 148 for 27 councillor posts and 32 women for 9 reserved posts --- are also running the race in the NCC polls.
Voting begins at 8:00am and will continue until 4:00pm without any break.
Maintaining health guidelines, some 517,361 voters will exercise their franchise in the elections where electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be used.
Ivy was re-elected NCC mayor in 2016, contesting the polls with the Boat symbol. She became the first NCC mayor in 2011, defeating AL heavyweight Shamim Osman.
A day before the polls, Taimur Alam raised allegations at a briefing on Saturday that his leaders and activists were being arrested and harassed.
“Some 10 activists were arrested on Friday night while some 17 were arrested earlier. If the voting atmosphere is marred, the image of the Prime Minister will be tarnished,” he said, seeking the premier’s interference in stopping the arrest and harassment.
He also urged the authorities concerned to play a neutral role and set up closed circuit cameras in polling booths for holding the fair in a free, fair and credible manner.
Returning Officer Mahfuza Akter on Saturday said that CCTV cameras inside polling booths would be switched off during the polls for the sake of privacy. “There will be no privacy of voters if the CCTVs function in polling booths. If any camera is installed at any booth, it will be switched off,” she said while distributing election materials at Modern High School in Narayanganj.
Narayanganj Police Super Zaidul Alam said that stern action would be taken against those who will try to put any influence in polling booths.
“Nobody will be allowed to take advantage at polling booths. A three-tier security zone will be set up for ensuring a free, fair and credible election,” he said.
Seeking cooperation from the voters, candidates and their followers, the SP said, “We want to gift the people of the country a model election in a festive atmosphere.”
He said some 15 to 17 Ansar members led by five to six policemen will be deployed at each centre.
"Each ward will have three APBn mobile teams, one striking force and a team of Rapid Action Battalion. We will try to deploy one platoon BGB in each ward also,” Alam said.
Meanwhile, elections in five municipalities -- Banshkhali, Noakhali, Jhikargachha, Bagatipara and Natore -- and by-polls in Tangail-7 constituency will also be held today.