Awami League candidate Talukder Abdul Khalek and his supporters show victory sign after winning Khulna mayoral election. -AA
In a tightly contested election to the chair of Khulna mayor, ruling Awami League's Talukder Abdul Khalek won a convincing victory over BNP's candidate in the prestige fight, the polling official announced yesterday night.
Talukder won the election with a big margin getting 176,902 votes, while his nearest rival BNP's Nazurl Islam Manju got 108,956 in 286 election centers out of a total 289, Returning Officer Yunus Ali announced.
The voting was suspended in the remaining three centers due to violence, capturing of polling stations and ballot paper stuffing. The polling, labeled as peaceful and fair by observers, saw an unusually 60 percent turnout with men and women voting a in a very festive mood.
"Yes, the atmosphere is very good," one woman voter told the Asian Age during the first hours of the election. BNP's Nazrul was critical and called the polls a "farce" and a "futile exercise."
The polls got more attention as both the candidates were chosen by the two major parties without approaching the leaderships for a ticket, local politicians said. "The polls thus became a prestige fight," one of the local leaders said.
The eight-hour polling, which ended at 4:00 pm, was suspended in three polling centers due to violence, capturing of polling stations and forced stuffing.
Agency reports quoted Returning Officer Yunus Ali said voting in two polling centers - Labanchora Government Primary School and ward no 31 ward councilor office - were suspended around 2:20 pm due to snatching of ballot papers and stuffing.
Besides, voting was suspended at Khulna Govt Iqbal Nagar School center in ward No 24 following snatching of ballot papers by miscreants around 10:30 am, said presiding officer Khalilur Rahman. Meanwhile, voting at Fatema High School in ward No 22 was suspended for two hours from 10:30am following an incident of fake voting.
Two crude bombs exploded in front of the Khulna Government Women College polling centre around 3:30 pm forcing voters to take shelter and disrupting the process for some time.
In the first hours, Talukder voted at Pioneer Girls' High School polling, while his arch -rival Nazrul at a center. Briefing the press in Dhaka, BNP's Ruhul Kabir Rizvi angrily alleged late Tuesday that ruling party men resorted to various irregularities in 50 percent of polling stations.
A total of five mayoral candidates, 148 general councillor and 38 reserved-seat female councilor candidates were in the fray.
The other contenders were Jatiya Party's Shafiqur Rahman Mushfiq, Islami Andolan Bangladesh's Maulana Mozammil Haque and CPB's Mizanur Rahman Babu.
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