Voting in the first phase of 5th Upazila Parishad elections begins in 80 upazilas of 12 districts under four divisions in the country. The polling started at 8 am and will continue to 4 pm without any break. Earlier, Election Commission (EC) Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed told BSS yesterday “All preparations have been completed for holding the elections in a peaceful manner. All kinds of directives have been given to the officials concerned for holding the elections in a free, fair and peaceful way. No irregularities will be tolerated during this election,” . Besides, general holiday has been announced for Sunday in the respective upazilas on the occasion of the election. Electioneering ended on Friday midnight while huge enthusiasm has been noticed among the voters centering this poll as the election is being held with party symbols. Restrictions on vehicular movements have been imposed in the electoral areas while additional law enforcement agencies have been deployed for five days, including two days before and two days after the election along with the voting day. Some 14 members of law enforcement agency have been deployed in every general polling centre while 16 have been deployed in the risky polling centers. Although the EC declared election schedule for 87 upazilas in the first phase, polls will be held in 80 upazilas. The EC postponed elections in three upazilas – Aditmari upazila in Lalmonirhat, Purbadhola in Netrokona and Jamalganj in Sunamganj districts – on Friday. Besides, elections will not be held in three upazials – Molahando and Madarganj upazilas of Jamalpur district and Natore Sadar – as all candidates in the upazilas have been elected unopposed.
The court, however, has postponed the elections to Paba upazila of Rajshahi district. In the first phase of the upazila parishad elections, a total of 29 candidates, including 16 chairmen, six vice-chairmen and seven women vice-chairmen, so far have been elected unopposed. About 894 aspirants, including 273 for chairman, 406 for vice-chairman and 273 for women vice-chairman posts, are contesting in the first phase polls. About 1.53 crore voters will exercise their franchise today at 39, 159 polling booths in 6,219 polling centers in 80 upazilas. In the first phase, the elections are being held in five upazilas of Panchagarh district, six in Nilphamari, four in Lalmonirhat, nine in Kurigram, five in Jamalpur, eight in Netrokona, 10 in Sunamganj, eight in Habiganj, eight in Sirajganj, five in Jaypurhat, five in Natore and eight in Rajshahi districts. The upazilas are: Panchagarh Sadar, Atwari, Boda, Debiganj and Tetulia under Panchagarh district, Nilphamari Sadar, Domar, Dimla, Jaldhaka, Saidpur and Kishoreganj under Nilphamari district, Lalmonirhat Sadar, Patgram, Hatibandha and Kaliganj under Lalmonirhat district, Kurigram Sadar, Bhurungamari, Phulbari, Ulipur, Nageshwari, Rajarhat, Rajibpur, Chilmari and Raomari under Kurigram district. Jamalpur Sadar, Baksiganj, Dewanganj, Islampur and Sarishabari upazilas under Jamalpur district, Netrokona Sadar, Barhatta, Durgapur, Kalmakanda, Kendua, Khaliajuri, Madan and Mohanganj upazilas under Netrokona district, Sunamganj Sadar, Derai, Bishwamvarpur, Chhatak, Dakshin Sunamganj, Dharamapasha, Dowarabazar, Sullah, and Tahirpur upazilas under Sunamganj district, Habiganj Sadar, Bahubal, Madhabpur, Chunarughat, Lakhai, Nabiganj, Ajmiriganj and Baniachong upazilas under Habiganj district.
Sirajganj Sadar, Belkuchi, Chauhali, Kazipur, Raiganj, Shahjadpur, Tarash and Ullahpara upazilas under Sirajganj district, Joypurhat Sadar, Akkelpur, Kalai, Khetlal and Panchbibi upazilas under Joypurhat district, Bagatipara, Baraigram, Gurudaspur, Lalpur and Singra upazilas under Natore district, Tanore, Godagari, Mohanpur, Bagmara, Puthia, Durgapur, Charghat and Bagha upazilas under Rajshahi district.
As per the election schedule, elections will be held in 129 upazilas on March 18 in the second phase and in 127 upazilas on March 24 in the third phase. Besides, the fourth and fifth phases of the Upazila Parishad elections will be held on March 31 and July 18 respectively.