Awami League candidate Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh has won a landslide victory in the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) mayoral election while the ruling party's pick Atiqul Islam has retained his post as the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) mayor with a huge margin.
Saturday's (Feb 1) voting was marred by allegations of 'massive rigging', sporadic clashes by the candidates of BNP, the major political rival of ruling AL.
The BNP called a dawn-to-dusk shutdown in Dhaka for Sunday (Feb 2) rejecting the results of the elections, which it described as a 'farce'.
"We outright reject the polls," BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told a media briefing before claiming that they would observe a 'peaceful' shutdown to protect the rights of the Dhaka voters.
Sporadic incidents of clashes were reported from different part of the capital including Naya Paltan, Tikatuli, , Mohammadpur, and Mirpur area, leaving several journalists, among others, injured.
Inspector General of Police Mohammad Javed Patwary said strict action would be initiated against those who had assaulted on-duty journalists during the elections, according to media reports.
Voter turnout in both city corporations was less than 30 percent.
According to the unofficial counts from all 1,150 polling centres in DSCC, Taposh got 424,595 votes while his nearest rival Ishraque Hossain of BNP managed 236,512 votes.
In DNCC, unofficial results of all the 1,318 polling centres shows that Atiqul bagged 447,211 votes while his nearest rival Tabith Awal of BNP got 264,161vote
The chief election commissioner, however, was pleased with the polls despite the thin presence of voters.
"The figure of votes cast in the polls will be less than 30 percent," CEC KM Nurul Huda told the media on Saturday afternoon.
"It's the responsibility of the candidates to ensure the voters' presence at the voting centres. Our job is to create a proper voting atmosphere. There were no lackings on our part on that front," he told the reporters after casting his vote at IES School and College polling station in the capital's Uttara area.
As many as 67 foreign observers from seven countries including the USA and the UK and European Union and a total of 1,013 local observers from 22 organizations oversaw the Dhaka city elections.
The heads of nine foreign missions in Dhaka, in a joint statement on Jan 30, described the city elections as "an opportunity for the citizens of Dhaka to exercise their democratic rights" and the diplomats "look forward to seeing democracy in action."
Voting in the two city corporations elections took place between 8am and 4om on Saturday (Feb 1) with the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs).
EVM blunder even hit CEC Huda as the machine couldn't read his fingerprint when he went to cast his vote at IES School and College centre. He had to cast his vote with his national identification (NID) number
Incidents of machines hitting technical glitches were reported from Mohammadpur and wards 24, 25 and 26.
Returning Officer Abdul Baten announced the results of the DSCC polls at his office set up at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy in the capital's Segun Bagicha in the early hours of Sunday (Feb 2) while Returning Officer Abul Quasem announced the DNCC polls results at Agargaon's Electoral Training Institute.
Apart from Taposh and Ishraque, five candidates vied for the DSCC mayoral post.
Jatiya Party's Mohammad Saifuddin (plough) bagged 5,593 votes, Bangladesh Congress' Md Aktar Uzzaman Alias Ayatullah (coconut) 2421 votes, National People’s Party's Bahrane Sultan Bahar (mango) 3,155 votes, Ganofront's Abdus Samad (fish) 12,687 votes, and Islami Andolan Bangladesh's Abdur Rahman (hand fan) secured 26,525 votes.
Apart from Atiqul and Tabith, four other candidates vied for the DNCC mayoral post.
National People’s Party Md Anisur Rahman Dewan (mango) bagged 3,853 votes, Progressive Democratic Party's Shahin Khan (tiger) 2,111 votes, Islami Andolon Bangladesh's Sheikh Md Fazle Bari Masud (hand fan) 28,200 votes and Bangladesh Communist Party's Ahammad Sajedul Haque (sickle) got 15,122 votes.
Besides electing two mayors, voters in DSCC cast ballots to elect 73 ward councillors and 23 reserved women councillors while, in DNCC, they voted to elect 54 ward councillors and 18 reserved women councillors.
Four councillor candidates, including two in reserved seats, had earlier been elected unopposed to the DSCC.
A total of 29 percent of more than 2.45 million voters in Dhaka South cast their votes. Of the 711,844 cast votes, 1,562 were cancelled.
In DNCC, voters' turnout was 25.3 percent with 760,658 exercised their franchise from a total of more than 3.01 million voters.
The first election of the undivided Dhaka City Corporation was held in 1994 and the second one in 2002. In 2011, the government split the DCC into two but there was no election.
The last city elections were held in 2015 in which the AL's Sayeed Khokon won Dhaka South city mayoral election while Annisul Huq in the Dhaka North.
The DNCC mayoral post fell vacant after then-mayor Annisul died on Nov 30, 2017.
Atiqul then won the DNCC by-election on Feb 28, 2019 amid a boycott by BNP and its allies.
Amanur Rahman Roney, Rafsan Jani, Shahed Shafiq, Aditto Rimon, Emran Hossain Shaikh, Nurruzzaman Labu, Salman Tareque Sakil, Saddif Ovee, Chowdhury Akbor Hossain, and Sriajul Islam Rubel contributed to this report.