Three days before the Narayanganj City Corporation election, mayoral candidates Selina Hayat Ivy and Taimur Alam Khandaker both tried to get the last word in and set the record straight three days before the polls.
"The administration has never been in my hands. I have never even tried to take over it," Ivy said while addressing a rally in Narayanganj's Ward-18 on Thursday.
"I have always tried to go to the people's doorsteps. I did not get any additional benefit as a candidate of the ruling party. Since people are by my side, why should I take extra advantage?"
Ivy said if anyone tried to destabilise the law and order situation, the administration would look into it as this was not a matter for her.
She also said the last two polls had a festive and peaceful atmosphere.
Referring to allegations of arrests and harassment made by independent mayoral candidate Taimur Alam Khandaker, Ivy said, "I do not know who was arrested. Let him name those who have been arrested. I know that a man was taken into custody over a sabotage case. But I do not know who caught him or why."
Ivy said a few problems would arise before every election and the administration was aware of this. "My voters will be able to vote in a festive atmosphere. The voting equation is moving towards the boat. It was for the 'boat' before and it still is," she declared.
Meanwhile, mayoral candidate Taimur Alam Khandaker on Thursday sought the cooperation of the prime minister to stop the harassment and arrests of his supporters by the police.
He said the harassment had not stopped, also requesting the chief election commissioner to step in.
Taimur Alam alleged that his leaders, activists and supporters were being searched and harassed by the police at their homes, while his polling agents were being threatened.
Referring to the police superintendent's statement that no one involved in misdeeds would be spared, Taimur said, "I would be happy if his statement reflected what was being done.
"On Wednesday night, 10 to 15 policemen took up position in front of my house," he said.
Mentioning "ghost" cases -- those accusing the dead, those living abroad, or cases with false or incorrect information -- he said BNP leaders were continuously being harassed over those.
Drawing the attention of international human rights organisations and foreign embassies, Taimur said, "I would like to request those who are in foreign embassies to stay on the field on election day."
With elections slated for January 16, both candidates have exchanged blame games, while party affiliations are being tested.
Though many local Chhatra League and Jubo League leaders have come out in support of Ivy, senior leaders with close ties to Shamim Osman have been conspicuous by their absence. While some leaders have campaigned for the boat symbol, they have not done so for Ivy.
Meanwhile, the Mahanagar Chhatra League, Jubo League and Swadhinata Chikitsak Parishad (Swachip) held a street rally for Ivy on Thursday which was attended by the central BCL president, general secretary and party leaders and workers.
Elsewhere, elephant symbol candidate Taimur Alam marched in a rally in Khandaker town, flanked by numerous BNP leaders and activists, despite him not being part of the party any longer.
Rallies are prohibited and holding those are in violation of the electoral code of conduct.
Businessmen dominate N'ganj city elections: SHUJAN
Most of the mayoral and councillor candidates in Narayanganj City Corporation elections are businessmen, many of whom have concealed their details in their affidavits, the Citizens For Good Governance (SHUJAN) said at a virtual press conference on Thursday, calling for their rejection.
After analysing available data, Shujan said that they found that out of the 186 candidates for the three posts, 75.81% were businessmen.
Furthermore, 46 (24.73%) had cases pending against them, 36 (19.35%) had cases in the past, while 20 (10.75%) have both cases against them at present and had so in the past.
The Election Commission (EC) is depriving the voters by not disclosing the income tax details of the candidates and by publishing incomplete affidavits, the organisation also said, asking if the commission was working for the interests of the people or not.
It also objected to the CEC's statement that a member of parliament violating the code of conduct was not a punishable offence.
Shujan further expressed apprehensions that the bias of law enforcement agencies and the EC could alter the outcome of the election.
Shujan's coordinator Dilip Kumar, while presenting the findings, said information on 3 out of 186 candidates could not be found and that the information given did not paint an accurate picture. He also discussed the educational qualifications of the candidates.
According to their findings, 65% of the candidates had not passed SSC.
In a written statement, Dilip Kumar Sarkar said that out of seven mayoral candidates, three (42.86%) had a postgraduate degree, while three (42.86%) were graduates. One in the remaining three (14.29%) had passed an equivalent to the Secondary School Certificate examination.
Of the general ward councillor candidates, 50.6% had a qualification below SSC.
Among the women councillor candidates, the number of candidates who had an undergraduate or postgraduate degree was 6.06% and 3.03% respectively.
Dilip Kumar said the analysis shows that out of a total of 186 candidates, the lion's share of educational qualifications (120 or 64.52%) were SSC or below. In the 2016 election, the rate was 71.64%.
At the press conference, Badiul Alam Majumder, Shujan's secretary, said that the information given in the candidates' affidavits was not detailed, asking the EC to check those and ensure cancellation of nominations of those who withheld information.
Shujan also pointed out that the income tax returns of the candidates from the Dhaka City Corporation election were not given, despite asking the EC to do so through a letter.
Responding to a question, Badiul Alam said that the EC was depriving the voters by not providing the needed information.
He further said that many had been nominated without even furbishing a tax certificate, which was not acceptable.
Badiul Alam also questioned the electronic voting machine method of polling, saying that the EC could change the outcome if they wanted.