In a league of her own, Ivy is re-elected Narayanganj mayor for third term

Salina Hayat Ivy has won the power of a popular mandate to lead Narayanganj City Corporation once again after consigning BNP leader Taimur Alam Khandaker, her main rival for the mayor's office, to a massive defeat.

The Awami League aspirant drubbed Taimur, who contested as an independent candidate, by a margin of 66,931 votes in a two-way 'contest'.

She polled 159,097 votes in all 192 centres, according to results announced by Returning Officer Mahfuza Akter outside the office of the district’s deputy commissioner on Sunday night. Taimur was a long way behind having bagged 92,166 votes.

Ivy’s supporters began celebrating in the evening after the Awami League candidate pulled away in the race.

They took out processions throughout the industrial city as thousands gathered outside the campaign office near her home at Deobhog, and celebrated by exploding fireworks as the results were re-announced through the loudspeaker there.

Ivy said Narayanganj has proved to be a stronghold of the Awami League. “I feel proud to have been able to keep it up. As a small worker, I will always work for this party with the Joy Bangla slogan.”

“But above all, I will serve the people of Naryanganj. I will rise above differences in party and opinion to work for the people’s wellbeing.”

Taimur conceded defeat, but alleged “election engineering” by the administration and “fraud through EVMs”. “I don’t look at this defeat as a defeat,” the BNP leader said at a news conference at his home in Masdair.

“People came to vote in a festive mood, but they could not cast their ballots. The machines were slow, and they were engineered from the inside. Otherwise, the difference (of votes with Ivy) would not be so huge.”

“It was a government versus people game; government versus Taimur Alam Khandaker.”

Taimur expressed frustration over the police and administration’s ‘activities’ before the polls. “People who had been busy campaigning were detained. Arrests began after Awami League leaders had come over from Dhaka.”

Ivy refuted the allegations. “There were so many media people and law enforcers. How could the engineering took place?”

She said she had also complained about slow voting. “The difference would have been 100,000 votes had the balloting not been slow.” 

The mayor-elect said she would talk to “Taimur Kaka (uncle)” and try to accomplish the tasks promised by the BNP leader as well.

“I want to work tirelessly for the residents of Narayanganj in the next five years defying all odds. I want to dedicate my life until the final day for them.”

A foreign-trained medical doctor, Ivy joined the city politics in 2003, riding on the popularity of her father Ali Ahmed Chunka, the first chairman of the Narayanganj municipality and immensely popular as a local Awami League leader.

She had served as the chairperson of the Narayanganj municipality for eight years before becoming the first elected woman mayor of Bangladesh five years ago.

Before her re-election in 2016, she became mayor by defeating AKM Shamim Osman, another leader of the party, in the first polls to Narayanganj City Corporation in 2011.

The voting was held through electronic voting machines, or EVMs, exclusively in the Narayanganj city elections for the first time.

The city on the banks of the Shitalakkhya River is home to nearly 525,000 voters.

Election officials expected a good turnout despite the coronavirus pandemic as many expressed delight at the ease with which votes could be registered on the devices.

But several others, particularly the elderly, faced difficulties in getting them to recognise their fingerprints. These issues led to a slow pace of voting, despite the festive air across the city.

The turnout finally stood at 50 percent, the Election Commission said.

[Written in English by Osham-ul-Sufian Talukder and edited by Biswadip Das]