There are 20 polling centres in nine wards of the Chowmuhani municipality.
All 20 polling centres are marked as risky.
Number of contestants for different posts:
- 4 candidates for mayor,
- 36 candidates for councillors in 9 wards
- 13 candidates for reserved posts for women councillors
There will be a three-way battle between the Awami League-backed candidate, Awami League's rebel candidate and BNP candidate for the mayoral post in the municipality.
Officials and forces to be deployed during the election:
- 15 executive magistrates,
- 6 platoons of Border Guard Bangladesh,
- 6 platoons of Rapid Action Battalion,
- Police and Ansar members
The administration suspended voting in 10 out of 20 centers due to shooting, violence and unrest during the Chowmuhani municipal elections on 30 December 2015.
Voting was held thrice in those centers.
Voting will be held on 30 January in the Chowmuhani municipality of Begumganj upazila where the main commercial center of Noakhali is located. The last election in the municipality was marked by violence and people in the area are anticipating a tough contest in this year's election as well.
There are 20 polling centres in nine wards, all of which are marked as risky, said Bimalendu Kishore Pal, election officer of Begumganj upazila.
This time, there will be a three-way battle between the Awami League-backed candidate, Awami League's rebel candidate and BNP candidate for the mayoral post in the municipality.
According to several Awami League activists and leaders, party units in Begumganj upazila are plagued by long-standing internal conflicts. The Awami League in the upazila is currently divided into three groups, and the BNP-backed candidate wants to leverage this opportunity.
As the polling day draws closer, every single alley of the municipality is bustling with campaign activities. There is a festive ambience everywhere in the municipality.
Candidates have been campaigning since the allocation of symbols on 12 January. Every neighborhood has been flooded with posters and banners, with pictures of the candidates and their symbols. Ignoring the cold weather, the candidates are going from door to door to ask for votes.
There are 54,254 voters in the municipality, of which 28,513 are male and 25,741 are female.
According to the Election Office, four candidates are contesting for the post of mayor in Chowmuhani, 36 candidates are vying for the positions of councillors in nine wards and 13 candidates for reserved posts for women councillors.
Awami League-nominated candidate for the mayoral post is the party's Chowmuhani municipality unit president and the current Mayor Akter Hossain Faisal. BNP nominee candidate and Municipal BNP President Zahir Uddin Harun, independent candidate Khaled Saifullah, and Islami Sasontanra Andolon-nominated candidate Md Zaker Hossain are also competing in the polls for the mayor post.
There are multiple councillor candidates backed by Awami League and BNP in each ward.
Awami League candidate Akter Hossain Faisal said during his last two terms as mayor, he had carried out development work worth around Tk300 crore in Chowmuhani. These include setting up a modern bus terminal and municipal park, paving roads, developing a power system, constructing a state-of-the-art market, and installing CCTV cameras in the area.
Meanwhile, BNP candidate Zahir Uddin Harun said Chowmuhani, as well as the entire Begumganj upazila, is a BNP stronghold. He is hoping for a landslide victory on 30 January, provided voters are able to cast their ballots without any hindrance.
Former deputy general manager (retd) of the Bangladesh Bank Khaled Saifullah, a rebel candidate from Awami League, is contesting in the election as an independent candidate. He is also the elder brother of Member of Parliament Mamunur Rashid Kiran.
Khaled Saifullah claims to be an honest, worthy candidate and said he has supported the underserved of Chowmuhani municipality in multiple ways, e.g., with mosques, madrasahs, schools, and colleges. He is also optimistic about his chances.
Relevant sources said, the administration suspended voting in 10 of 20 centers due to incidents of shooting and violence during the Chowmuhani municipal elections on 30 December 2015. Voting was held thrice in those centers. Due to those incidents of unrest, there is panic amongst candidates and voters alike in this election as well.
When asked about the violence during the previous election, Begumganj Upazila Election Officer Bimalendu Kishore Pal said, "We want to forget what happened five years ago. This time, we have taken all necessary measures and precautions for a free, fair, and peaceful election. We have taken all preparations to hold the polls without any untoward incidents."
He said 15 executive magistrates, six platoons of Border Guard Bangladesh, and six platoons of Rapid Action Battalion, along with police and Ansar members, will be deployed in the area during the municipality election.