BNP candidate Ariful Haque Choudhury was declared winner in Sylhet city polls yesterday as he defeated his nearest rival Badar Uddin Ahmed Kamran of Awami League by 6,196 votes.
The returning officer declared the final unofficial results of the mayoral elections after re-polling at two centres.
According to unofficial results of all the 134 polling centres in the Sylhet City Corporation area, Ariful bagged 92,588 votes against Kamran's 86,392, said Returning Officer Alimuzzaman.
Polling at Gazi Borhan Uddin Garam Dewan Govt Primary School and Habinandi Govt Primary School centres was cancelled on July 30 following allegations of irregularities.
Yesterday, Ariful secured 1,044 and 1,053 votes at the two centres respectively, while Kamran polled 173 and 354 votes.
On July 30, the BNP nominee was leading the mayoral race with 90,496 votes as the AL candidate secured 85,870 votes.
During the polling yesterday, Ariful said people have proved that conspiracies do not work for changing the results of an election.
Referring to the polling on July 30, he said he was leading the mayoral race despite so many conspiracies.
Both Ariful and Kamran expressed satisfaction over holding the re-polling in a free, fair and impartial manner.
No complaints of voting irregularities were filed with the Election Commission yesterday.
Parvez Ahmed, who exercised his franchise at Habinandi Govt Primary School, said, “I could not cast my vote on July 30 as all the ballots were snatched and stuffed into boxes. I cast my vote today [yesterday] peacefully”.
'DEV WORKS TO CONTINUE'
Talking to journalists at the returning officer's office after the announcement of unofficial results last night, Ariful said he was grateful to the people of Sylhet city who elected him to serve a second term as mayor.
“I am grateful to the citizens who elected me mayor. They showed the real power of democracy.”
Asked if he would be able to continue carrying out development works, the BNP leader said, “I was an elected mayor and the government helped the elected mayor implement the development projects. I believe whichever party forms the next government would help me in this regard in the next five years.”
Meanwhile, AL candidate Kamran in a press statement last night welcomed the polls results.
“I thank everyone who supported me in the election. I will be helping the newly elected mayor,” he said.
FACTORS INFLUENCING RESULTS
The two leading mayor candidates' approach towards development was one of the key factors in the polls results. Moreover, BNP contesting the polls without the backing of Jamaat had a positive impact on Ariful's success, said AL and BNP leaders.
Kamran had been at the helm of Nagar Bhaban for 17 years since 1996. He was elected chairman of the then Sylhet Municipality. In 2003, he was elected as the first mayor of newly formed SCC.
After serving two terms as Sylhet mayor, Kamran lost to Ariful in 2013 as the voters rejected him due to his insignificant achievements.
Talking to The Daily Star, Asad Uddin Ahmed, general secretary of Sylhet city AL, said, “People rejected the Awami League candidate in the city polls as he did not think of the city's development. Ariful as a mayor got support from the Awami League government due to his positive approach towards development.”
AL Organising Secretary Misbah Uddin Siraj echoed the views of Asad Uddin.
Kamran, however, denied the allegations of his party colleagues. He said Ariful highlighted the development works which was implemented in Sylhet city by the AL government as part of its national development projects.
Asad Uddin also said the AL didn't have any understanding with Jamaat over the SCC polls, but the party candidate might have had an understanding with the Jamaat-backed mayor candidate.
“As the BNP alleged that Jamaat made a secret deal with the Awami League, it influenced the progressive voters who are anti-Jamaat,” he added.
Nasim Hossain, president of Sylhet city BNP, said the SCC polls showed how the ruling AL lost its popularity over the years.
The re-polling at two centres proved that AL would have lost the mayoral polls by huge votes if the July 30 elections were held peacefully, he added.