The Election Commission has announced the schedule of by-elections for the post of Mayor of Comilla City Corporation with the polling date on March 9. Meanwhile, in the middle of the schedule, the Deputy Commissioner has issued a public notice announcing the re-arrangement of the boundaries of the two wards of this city. Again after the finalization of the boundaries, the local government department has written to the commission to take electoral measures. Therefore, at the same time, there has been a mixed reaction among the voters regarding the rescheduling of the schedule and boundaries. Voters wavered on whether to vote on the scheduled date or not. Farhad Hossain, the returning officer assigned for the by-elections of Comilla City, said that since it is a by-election for the post of mayor, there will be no chance of legal problems in the polling. Election work will continue as per the instructions of the commission.
The officer in charge of determining the boundary is Deputy Commissioner Khandkar Mu. Mushfiqur Rahman said, “Our job is to send information about the correct reorganization, the ministry and the Election Commission will take care of everything else.”
It is known that Arfanul Haque Rifat, general secretary of metropolitan Awami League, was elected mayor in the third election of Comilla City Corporation. He defeated BNP leader Monirul Haque Sakku who was mayor for two consecutive terms and became mayor. The post of City Mayor became vacant due to the death of Arfanul Haque Rifat on December 13, 2023 due to incurable disease, a year and a half after being elected. After that, according to the rules, in the announced schedule for the mayoral election, the election commission said that March 9 is the last day for EVM voting and February 13 is the last day for filing nominations. Meanwhile, the Comilla Deputy Commissioner issued a public notice on January 21 regarding the reorganization of the boundaries of the three and seven wards of the City Corporation. And after the finalization of this demarcation process, the Local Government Department has requested the Election Commission to take measures for the by-elections.
At the same time, there has been a mixed reaction among the voters regarding the schedule for holding the elections and the guidelines for finalizing the boundaries. The discussion with social media is dominating whether the polling day for the post of mayor will be correct or not according to the schedule? Or the schedule will be changed.
In this context, Rokeya Begum Shefali, president of Conscious Citizens Committee-Comilla, said, ‘Both the process of demarcation and scheduling are important. We want both things to end in a normal process. Therefore, the new areas which will be included in the city are also important, as well as the election according to the schedule at the right time is also important.
Meanwhile, according to the City Corporation Act, Comilla Deputy Commissioner and two other officials have been appointed as officials to demarcate local government department boundaries. Public notification has also been issued in the meantime.
Deputy Commissioner Khandaker Mu. Mushfiqur Rahman said, in view of the boundary arrangement, anyone can object or add-subtract until February 1. After that, the format information will be sent to the Ministry of Local Government. Everything else will depend on the Ministry and Election Commission.
Returning Officer Md. Farhad Hossain said, ‘Knowing the matter, the Election Commission has announced the schedule. We have taken all measures accordingly. And this problem with ward redistricting, since everyone would vote for mayor, there would be no chance of polling or legal problems. Because everyone will vote for mayor. Not in the post of ward councillor.’
Md. Farhad Hossain also said that the voting of Comilla City Corporation will be done in Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). The machines will be monitored twice before selection.
According to the draft, the total number of voters in 27 wards of Comilla City Corporation is 2 lakh 42 thousand 460 people. Among them 1 lakh 24 thousand 279 female voters and 1 lakh 18 thousand 179 male voters. There are two Hijra voters.