Third-Phase UP Elections: 2 crore head to polls today
About two crore people in 1,000 union parishads are expected to cast their votes in the elections to the lowest tier of local governments today amid heightened fears of violence.
This will be the third phase, in which the highest number of union parishads will go to polls.
At least 45 people were killed and several hundred injured, during and after the first two phases of the polls.
Nine were killed ahead of the third phase, and 30 in pre- and post-polls violence centring the second phase held on November 11.
Six people died in the first phase, held in two parts on June 21 and September 21, according to the media reports.
The situation remained tense in the unions ahead of the election due to clashes mainly between supporters of the Awami League and its rebel candidates. According to AL sources, around 1,070 party rebels are contesting the polls.
Elections to the chairman posts of 100 UPs will not be required as candidates have already been elected unopposed.
In the absence of the BNP, the contest would presumably be between the AL, its "rebel groups" and the Jatiya Party.
Nineteen registered political parties are participating in the third phase, EC data shows.
While people have been worried about the continuous polls violence, Election Commission Secretary Humayun Kabir Khandaker said the polls will be held amid "festivities".
"Right now, we don't see any reason to be fearful of possible violence. Instructions have been given to law enforcers to control the law and order," he told reporters at the EC office after a commission meeting yesterday.
Law Minister Anisul Huq told parliament yesterday that the EC has been "alert and vigilant" about election violence.
"Strict instructions have been given to law enforcement agencies to maintain law and order. The Election Commission has written a letter to the government departments concerned, requesting it to take necessary steps in this regard."
He added that the clashes have been taking place due to personal and factional conflicts and land related disputes.
On November 24, the police headquarters have asked all police forces to remain alert so that no untoward incident takes place centring the polls.
Haider Ali Khan, deputy inspector general of operations at the PHQ, said they have started countywide raids to recover illegal firearms and narcotics to avert further polls violence.
Our Tangail correspondent reported that locals of different unions were worried about today's elections, following the death of a person in factional clashes between AL supporters in Doptior union in Tangail's Nagarpur upazila on Friday.
Returning Officer HM Kamrul Islam said the authorities have deployed additional law enforcers to avoid further violence.
Our Laxmipur correspondent reported that the situation was volatile in different unions under Ramaganj and Raipur upazilas as some of the candidates and voters alleged that many "outsiders are threatening voters with weapons and telling them not to go to polling stations".
AHM Kamruzzaman, Laxmipur superintendent of police, said law enforcers will control the situation and take prompt actions if they get any specific allegations of people carrying arms.
On October 14, the EC announced that 1,007 UPs from 63 districts will go to polls in the third phase. But elections to seven of them were postponed over various issues.
There will be no election in 14 UPs of Chattogram's Raozan upazila as AL nominated candidates for chairmen have already been elected unopposed.
EC data shows that chairmen of 100 union parishads will be elected unopposed. Most of them are AL leaders, said party sources.
At least 337 UP members and 132 candidates for women's reserved seats were also elected uncontested.
EC data also shows that 4,409 candidates are running for chairman posts, 11,105 for reserved member seats for women and 34,632 for member posts.
Around 2.01 crore people are expected to cast their votes at 10,059 polling centres.
Meanwhile the EC yesterday announced that 707 UPs will go to polls on January 5 in the fifth phase for election, while the fourth phase is expected to be held on December 23.
For the fifth phase, candidates will be able to submit their nominations to the returning officers till December 7, evaluation of nomination papers will be held on December 9 and the last date for withdrawal of candidacy is December 15.