POST TIME: 10 January, 2019 12:50:53 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 11 January, 2019 08:40:57 PM
BNP yet to decide on joining upazila polls
UNB, BrahmanbariaRafiqul Islam Azad, Dhaka

BNP yet to decide on joining upazila polls

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is yet to decide whether to take part in the forthcoming upazila (sub-district) parishad elections, likely to be held sometime in March. Party leaders, who rejected the results of the just-concluded parliamentary election and demanded that the Election Commission (EC) hold a fresh poll under a non-partisan government, said they are busy with the task to determine its next course of action and are yet to discuss the issue of upazila elections at the party forum.

It is too early to comment on the upazila elections. A decision in this regard will be taken at a party meeting at an appropriate time, said one of the leaders. The BNP, which faced a debacle in the December 30 parliamentary polls, had taken part in the last upazila elections held in 2014 under the then AL-led government.

The party high-ups at that time said that being a pro-election party, it is the BNP’s decision in principle to take part in polls. The BNP leaders, this time, are cautious to make any comment on the party's stand on participation in local government polls, as its candidates have been defeated by ruling party candidates in the parliamentary polls. The Awami League-led Grand Alliance won 298 parliamentary seats and Jatiya Oikyafront candidates seven.

The Jatiya Oikyafront, where the BNP is a major partner, accused the government of winning the polls through rigging and manipulating the polls by using the EC, administration and law enforcers.  

Some of the leaders termed the EC’s endeavour to hold the upazila polls as a plot, alleging that the government and the EC are trying to divert the attention of the people from the "massive rigging" in the elections.

BNP standing committee member Dr Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said they are yet to discuss the issue of upazila elections at the party forum. “We are yet to discuss the issue. We can tell you (journalists) about our position only after we take a decision in this regard,” he added.

Another standing committee member, Nazrul Islam Khan, said it is too early to make any comment on whether the BNP would take part in the upazila polls. He said the party would take a decision at an appropriate time after discussions in the party.

BNP vice-chairman Shamsuzzaman Dudu said they are still sorting out the anomalies and the scenarios of vote rigging and environment during the December 30 elections and determining the party’s next course of action.

“It (the process for the upazila election) is an evil design of the government and the EC to divert the attention of the people from the massive rigging during the polls,” he added.

The BNP leader said they are not thinking about capturing polling centres in the name of election.

The party will certainly make its position on the elections clear at an appropriate time, he added.  

The EC has started preparations to hold upazila parishad elections in March.

EC secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed said at a press briefing yesterday (Wednesday) that they are planning to hold the upazila polls in March as the SSC exams were scheduled for February and the HSC exams in April.. “We have already started preparations to hold the polls in nearly 500 upazilas in March. We will proceed according to the decisions of the honourable commission,” he added.

According to law, elections have to be held in six months before the term of the upazila parishads ends.

EC sources said the election schedule has to be announced in January or February for the elections to be held in March.

The Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmed-led commission had held elections in over 487 upazila parishads in six phases from February 19, 2014—one and a half months after the 10th national parliamentary elections of January 5.

The upazila parishad elections will take place on party lines where candidates will contest on a registered political party’s symbol for the first time.