Crucial battle in Gazipur
In yet another battle of ballot, the ruling Awami League and the main opposition BNP will face the test of popularity months before the national elections.
Although the BNP favourites won the June 15 polls to four city corporations by landslide, it is too early to make a prediction about Gazipur, an industrial city of more than ten thousand voters sharply divided over picking their mayor.
Ajmat Ullah Khan, a mayoral aspirant supported by the AL-led alliance, will not have a smooth victory, if at all, in the first-ever Gazipur City Corporation polls on July 6 due to alleged abuse of power by some of his relatives, according to many city dwellers.
On the other hand, BNP-backed aspirant MA Mannan has widely been blamed for his wide gap with voters and uneven development work in his constituencies -- Gazipur sadar and Tongi -- with Tongi given less priority when he was a state minister.
Ajmat Ullah had been the Tongi municipality mayor for more than 15 years facing no major corruption allegations.
The locals recognise him as a gentleman but allege that he usually did not settle local disputes himself, rather assigned his two cousins and one brother-in-law to hold arbitrations. In the process, his relatives abused power, realising money from victims.
However, he will have the full support from his party which won all the five parliamentary seats in the district in the 2008 national polls.
"We had witnessed waterlogging in our area even after a light rain. He [Ajmat] constructed many roads with drains in the locality, thus minimising the problem," said Mamunur Rashid, a resident of Khailkur area at ward-38 in Tongi.
Voters in Tongi consider Mannan as a "seasonal well-wisher" who is reappearing in the political scene of the area after a long time. He was visible in the city the most when he was a state minister for religion during the BNP government's tenure in 1991-96, said the locals.
They, however, said Mannan had built roads, academic and religious institutions both in Gazipur and Tongi areas.
His party men, with their confidence boosted by the June 15 victory, are likely to work hard for Mannan. His supporters are also set to use the critical national issues and failure of the AL-led government in the campaign to woo voters.
During a visit to Tongi and Gazipur areas, The Daily Star found the supporters of both the candidates campaigning.
There are 57 wards in the newly formed city corporation, about 30km away from the capital. Electronic voting machines will be used in the four polling stations at ward-25.