FT Online

2020-01-19 16:40:16 BdST

Dhaka city polls now on Feb 1

Elections to both the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) will now be held on February 1 instead of January 30.

The Election Commission took the decision at an emergency meeting on Saturday.

“We’ve talked to the Education Minister (Dr Dipu Moni). She informed us that there’ll be no problem if the SSC examination is deferred. So, we’ve taken the decision (to shift the voting to February 1),” Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda told reporters after the meeting at Nirbachan Bhaban.

He said the SSC and equivalent examinations will now begin on February 3 instead of February 1.

Amid widespread criticisms and movement by a group of Dhaka University students, the Commission’s started the meeting at 4pm with the CEC in the chair.

On December 22 last, the CEC announced the election schedule for the polls fixing January 30 as the voting date.

Different quarters, including the Hindu community, demanded the deferment of the elections to the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) slated for January 30 that coincide with Saraswati Puja.

Even major mayoral candidates also urged the EC to reschedule the election so that the Hindu community can smoothly celebrate the Saraswati Puja, one of their major religious festivals.

Dhaka University students went on a fast unto death on Thursday to press for the demand.

They, however, broke the hunger strike on Saturday night soon after the announcement of the polls deferment.

They ended their strike sipping juice and water offered by DU Vice-chancellor Prof Akhtaruzzaman.

Speaking on the occasion, the DU VC thanked the EC for its decision, saying good senses have finally prevailed on them.

Earlier, police foiled a march of the students towards the Nirbachan Bhaban on Wednesday.

The protesting students had announced the march programme from a road blockade at Shahbagh soon after the High Court on Tuesday turned down a writ petition seeking deferment of the January-30 elections.

Thirty-one organisations of minority communities on Saturday declared that they would go on a weeklong countrywide protest from Monday to press home the demand.

The organisations, including Bangladesh Hindu Buddha Christian Oikya Parishad, announced the programme at a press conference at Paltan in the city.

Jatiya Oikyafront convener and veteran Bangladeshi legislator Dr Kamal Hossain on Thursday said holding the city polls on the day of Saraswati Puja is an unjust act. “The government has committed an unjust act by fixing the election date on January 30 as the Saraswati Puja will be held on that day. Such things didn’t happen in the past,” he had said.

Bangladesh Hindu-Buddha-Christian Oikya Parishad general secretary Advocate Rana Dasgupta warned that they would resist the elections on January 30.

Besides, an appeal was filed on Thursday with the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court challenging the High Court order.

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