Rimi wins | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 01, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 01, 2012

Gazipur-4 By-polls

Rimi wins

Afsar rejects results, saying polls 'stage-managed'


A senior citizen casts her vote at the Dardaria Govt Primary School polling centre in Kapasia of Gazipur. The constituency went to by-polls yesterday. Photo: Anisur Rahman

Ruling Awami League candidate Simeen Hussain Rimi yesterday won the Gazipur-4 by-polls by a huge margin amid a very low voter turnout and peaceful polls atmosphere.
Rimi tallied 63,401 votes, overshadowing her two rivals -- Afsaruddin, her uncle and independent candidate, and Communist Party of Bangladesh-backed Asadullah Badal who received 26,349 and 1,428 votes respectively.
The voter turnout was 43.32 percent against 92 percent at the last parliamentary polls held in December 2008.
The maiden by-polls, considered as an “acid test” for the incumbent Election Commission constituted in February this year to prove its neutrality was marked by lack of voters' enthusiasm.
The AL has claimed the by-polls have been held in a free, fair and credible manner and ruled out independent candidate Afsaruddin Ahmad Khan's allegation that the election had been “stage-managed”.
The ruling party's Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif told The Daily Star Afsaruddin, sensing his “sure debacle”, made the comment just before the end of voting.
Earlier yesterday, Kapasia people opined that traditional voting enthusiasm was absent in all the 102 vote centres owing mainly to the polls boycott by the main opposition BNP. The brief one-year tenure remaining for the government and divisions in the ruling party also caused the low turnout, they added.
Heavy downpour for over an hour in the midst of the eight-hour-long non-stop voting also affected enthusiasm and festivity among the over 2.1 lakh voters of the constituency, which fell vacant following the resignation of AL MP Tanjim Ahmad Sohel Taj from parliament on July 7.
The two other candidates officially rejected the by-polls ten to fifteen minutes before the voting process ended.
Afsaruddin, brother of the country's first premier Tajuddin Ahmad, alleged that ruling party cadres, especially Bangladesh Chhatra League activists, wearing police uniforms threatened his voters and polling agents not to come to vote centres. He, however, could not give the names of the agents who were resisted or how they were resisted.
The CPB-backed candidate alleged that ruling party men showed “muscle power” and were engaged in vote rigging in over 25 vote centres. Badal mentioned the names of a dozen areas where those 25 vote centres were situated. However, he could not specify the names of any vote centres where his supporters were barred from casting votes.
Rimi claimed the by-election was held in a free, fair and peaceful manner.
There were reports of a few instances of vote rigging and intimidation of a few polling agents of Afsaruddin.
The Daily Star correspondent visited and monitored 16 vote centres situated in seven out of 11 unions in the constituency.
Voter presence at Kapasia Model Govt Primary School was seen to be very thin at 9:30am as only 100 of a total of 2,699 voters had cast their votes by then.
The turnout at two polling booths in Kapasia Pilot High School was almost nil at around 10:30am. The number of total voters and polling booths were 3,778 and eight respectively. More than 1,415 voters cast their votes in that vote centre till 3:30pm.
Almost the same picture was seen at the other 14 vote centres visited by this correspondent.
Voter Khitis Chandra Shil told The Daily Star that enthusiasm among the voters was absent as it did not feel like a national election contested by all parties.
“Besides, the main opposition BNP has asked its voters not to cast their votes. The main opposition has a vote bank of over 60,000 in the constituency,” Aminul, a college teacher, told this correspondent.
Polling agents of Afsaruddin were absent in many booths. Elsewhere it was found that many of his polling agents did not know much about their duties.
None of the polling agents of Afsaruddin appointed in the 16 polls centres alleged any kind of threats or resistance from the ruling party men.
Some polling agents even said they did not know Afsaruddin or his nephew Sohel Taj very well.
Local polls observers FEMA and Democracywatch, among others, monitored the polls.
FEMA in a press release observed that although the by-election was “peaceful and well-administrated”, it “did not fully comply with international standards and national election laws”.

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