The Cumilla City Corporation (CCC) is set to go to its much-talked-about third polls on Wednesday to elect its mayor and councilors amid tight security measures.

Though BNP, one of the major opposition political parties, is not there in the race, all eyes are fixed on the election as it is the first major polls under the recently formed Election Commission, led by Kazi Habibul Awal.

Five candidates are vying for the mayoral posts while 106 ones for 27 ward councilor posts and 36 women for nine reserved seats in the election.

The balloting will be held with the use of electronic voting machines (EVM) from 8am to 4pm without any recess.

Some 2.30 lakh people (exactly 229,920) are eligible to vote at 105 polling stations in 27 wards of the city.

A total of 2,29,920 voters will exercise their right to franchise at 105 polling stations in 27 wards of the city.

Although five candidates are vying for the mayoral post, the main contest is expected to be held between Awami League candidate Arfanul Haque Rifat and independent candidate and immediate-past mayor Monirul Haque Sakku.

Three other mayoral contestants are Islami Andolan Bangladesh's Md Rashedul Islam and independent ones Kamrul Ahsan Babul and Mohammad Nizam Uddin Kaiser--are also vying for the mayoral post.

Talking to UNB, Sakku, a two-time mayor of the Cumilla city, expressed his optimism about clinching a hat-trick victory in a fair election. But he has doubts about whether the election will be held in a fair and acceptable manner.

He alleged that the ruling party candidate and local influential ruling party leaders are trying to influence the election results by spreading panic among voters, intimidating them and flouting the election code of conduct.

Sakku urged the Election Commission to take proper steps for holding the voting in a credible manner with the spontaneous presence of voters and thus successfully overcome its first major test after the formation of the Commission.

Awami League mayoral candidate Rifat is also confident both about this victory and fair balloting.

He said voters will elect him as an honest and competent candidate for the development of the city. "People want a change in the mayoral post for getting rid of corruption and ensuring proper development of the city.

Rifat also hoped that the election will be held in a festive manner and all voters will be able to cast their votes without fear and favour.

According to voters, Sakku has a major challenge to get the votes of BNP followers as the party has expelled him while intra-party conflict is the major concern for Rifat.

A 16-member security team will ensure security to each vulnerable polling station while a 15-member security team will guard each normal polling station.

There are 27 teams (comprising members of police, APBN and Battalion Ansar) as mobile forces, nine teams as striking forces, two teams as reserved forces to maintain law and order and the electoral environment in the election area.

Apart from this, there are 27 teams of RAB in 27 wards to maintain the electoral atmosphere.

Besides, there are nine judicial magistrates and 27 executive magistrates to punish those who will violate the electoral codes.

On April 25 last, the EC announced the election schedule for the city and the deadline for submission of nomination papers expired on May 17 last.

Cumilla City Corporation was formed in 2011. The first two elections were held in 2011 and 2017. In the two elections, BNP leader Monirul Haque Sakku was elected the mayor.

BNP, however, boycotted the polls as per its decision not to participate in polls under the current Awami League government.

On May 19 last BNP expelled Sakku for life as he was contesting the city polls defying the party's decision. Sakku himself also resigned from his post to contest the polls.

Besides, BNP's associate body Swechchasebak Dal expelled its Central Assistant Organising Secretary and Cumilla city unit President Nizamuddin Kaisar for life as he was also there in the election race going against BNP's decision.

Meanwhile one Upazila parishad, five municipalities and 123 Union parishads will go to their regular elections in different districts across the country on Wednesday, according to the EC's factsheet provided on Tuesday.

Also, by-elections to some posts in one upazila parishad, one municipality and 44 union parishads will be held on the same day.

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