The Election Commission (EC) has chalked out various action plans to ensure that the candidates for the city corporation elections abide by the poll code of conduct.
Returning officers of the city polls had been instructed to inform aspirants about the code and the penalties any violation would draw, before the start of campaigning, said EC Secretariat’s Deputy Secretary Shamsul Alam.
Apart from imposing fine or jail terms, the EC can also annul an aspirant’s candidacy in case of violation of the code.
Candidates are allowed to use a maximum of two megaphones in each Ward for seven hours— from 2pm to 9pm— everyday during the campaign period.
The EC has also specified several restrictions for posters.
The deadline of submitting nominations end on Sunday and the last day of withdrawal is Apr 9.
Candidates will be able to kick-start their campaigns once the poll symbols are allotted.
Campaign can continue until Apr 26 midnight. The voting will be held on Apr 28.
Meanwhile, the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exams will start on Apr 1 and will continue throughout the month.
Returning officers of Dhaka North Shah Alam and Dhaka South Mihir Sarwar Morhsed said they were taking written declarations, while collecting nomination papers, from aspirants to abide by the code of conduct.
The EC added some new clauses to the electoral code of conduct, like a fixed time for using megaphones.
“Candidates should be informed that megaphones can only be used from 2pm to 9pm. Two megaphones can be used in each ward,” said EC Deputy Secretary Shamsul Alam.
Posters used for the campaigns have to be in black and white in stipulated size. Candidates will not be allowed to put names of any political parties or pictures of any political personalities in their poster.
Posters will have to be hanged and not pasted on walls and vehicles. Use of billboards is prohibited.
Aspirants will not be able to hold a mass rally or processions. They will be allowed to conduct only indoor and street-side rallies. But erecting stages or blocking of streets for rallies will not be allowed.
Any kind of lighting, setting up of pandals and election camps or erecting arch gates also prohibited.
Campaign expenses of councillor aspirants should not exceed Tk 6 per voter while for the mayor contestants it’s Tk 2.
The Election Commission has already deployed mobile courts led by magistrates and vigilance teams to check whether aspirants have started campaigning.
Nearly 2,000 aspirants have collected nomination forms for 126 posts in the three city corporations in Dhaka and Chittagong until Friday.
Though political parties cannot directly take part in the local government elections, but they can support candidates.
The undivided Dhaka City Corporation was under the BNP’s control with its Vice-Chairman Sadeque Hossain Khoka serving as the mayor.
The BNP-backed M Manjur Alam was the mayor of Chittagong City Corporation.
The party, which boycotted the last general election claiming it would not be fair under the Awami League government, has not yet formally endorsed the city polls.
But BNP leaders have been collecting nomination papers and top leaders have hinted that the party will join the polls.
The ruling Awami League, on the other hand, has already announced the mayor candidates it will back in Dhaka and Chittagong.