POST TIME: 12 December, 2016 00:00 00 AM
Narayanganj City Corporation polls
AL, BNP allies still apathetic
Rafiqul Islam Azad AND ABU JAKIR

AL, BNP allies still apathetic

Alliance partners of both Awami League and BNP are apparently found less-enthusiasistic in taking part in the campaign for the Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC) schedule to be held on December 22. Leaders and activists of  JSD and Workers Party, the two major parties of the ruling AL led 14 party alliance, and activists of Jamaat-e- Islami, the main partner of BNP in 20 party alliance,  are yet to get involved in the electioneering for mayoral candidates of AL and BNP. Some alliance leaders alleged that the AL had not discussed the issue of joint support for Selina Hayat Ivy. However, the 14-party coordinator and AL presidium member, Mohammad Nasim, had told a recent meeting of the alliance partners and the media that the ruling party-led bloc would extend support to the AL candidate.
Notwithstanding Nasim’s assurance, alliance leaders are yet to visit Narayanganj. Workers’ Party president Rashed Khan Menon yesterday said, “My party leaders will visit Narayanganj soon and seek votes in favour of the AL mayoral candidate.” Another alliance leader Sharif Nurul Ambia, a factional chief of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD), said, “We will carry out campaigning in favour of Ivy, but we are yet to start. I hope the alliance leaders will visit Narayanganj next week.” On the other hand, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, a major ally of the BNP-led 20-Party Alliance, is staying away carefully from extending support to the BNP mayoral candidate in the Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC) polls as the party has no representation in the alliance’s central coordination committee, BNP and Jamaat sources said.
Talking to The Independent, some BNP leaders said they were not interested whether the Jamaat was in the coordination committee or not and they did not want to meddle with the Jamaat’s affairs on the state of the poll campaign.
Some leaders, however, maintained that though Jamaat was not there in the 20-party coordination committee, the local leaders and activists were working for BNP candidate Advocate Sakhawat Hossain Khan. The leaders also made it clear that there was no distance amongst them over the NCC polls slated for December 22.
The BNP-led alliance formed the coordination committee at the secretary general level of the constituent parties last Tuesday to drum up support for Sakhawat.
Jatiya Party (Kazi Zafar) secretary general Mostofa Jamal Haider was named as the committee coordinator and Bangladesh NAP general secretary Golam Mostofa Bhuiyan was made its member secretary.
On exclusion of the Jamaat in the committee, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told reporters that they had to do it since Jamaat representatives were absent from the meeting and they had also not forwarded their names for the committee.
This was echoed by the convenor of the coordination committee. “Jamaat was not excluded. Incidentally, the Jamaat people were absent from the 20-Party meeting during formation of the coordination committee,” Haider said, denying any conflict of interest among the alliance partners.
The Jatiya Party leader said alliance leaders have already visited Narayanganj city and took part in the election campaign. “We will again visit Narayanganj for campaigning on behalf of our alliance candidates,” he added.
Earlier, the BNP had formed a central coordination committee with standing committee member Goyeshwar Chandra Roy as coordinator and organising secretary Fazlul Haque Milon as member secretary to liaise with important leaders of Narayanganj and give them necessary directives.
A standing committee member expressed his ignorance on whether Jamaat leaders were in the coordination committee or not. “They may have problems which made them careful or cautious. Probably, Jamaat is not there because of that,” he said, adding that he did not want to comment further on the issue ahead of the elections.
Another standing committee member declined to make any comment over Jamaat’s involvement in the NCC polls and questioned the necessity of meddling with Jamaat.
Narayanganj district BNP president Taimur Alam Khandker, however, said he was in touch with Jamaat. “I have had a meeting with local Jamaat leaders and they are working in favour of the BNP candidate,” he added.
Taimur Khandker, who is also convenor of the 20-party alliance’s Narayanganj district, said the opposition bloc was intact and there was no deterioration in relations among the partners over the NCC polls.
A Dhaka-based Jamaat leader said they did not want inclusion in the coordination committee to avoid police harassment. “But the Jamaat leaders and activists in Narayanganj have been asked to work and vote for the BNP candidate,” he added.
Meanwhile, just days ahead of the Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC) elections slated for December 22, the campaigning turned murky with rival mayoral candidates from the Awami League (AL) and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) trading barbs yesterday.
The AL candidate, Selina Hayat Ivy, claimed that the residents of Narayanganj would vote for her irrespective of party affiliations, as they had done in the previous civic polls in 2011.
Taking pot shots at her BNP rival, Shakhawat Hossain Khan, Ivy accused him of being a “hired candidate” of the opposition party as he was no longer a BNP man.
Campaigning in the port city’s Ward 26, Ivy told reporters that local lawmaker and AL leader Shamim Osman would not interfere in the NCC polls. “I urge Shakhawat to keep faith and trust in the people of Narayanganj,” she added.
On his part, Shakhawat alleged that the ruling party candidate has become politically bankrupt and that is why Ivy has accused him of tearing up her election posters.
Talking to reporters during a mass contact programme in the city’s Nitaiganj area, the BNP candidate urged the Election Commission (EC) to take necessary steps to ensure free and fair polls. “The EC must ensure that no one is able to establish supremacy on voting day so that polling is held in a credible manner,” he added.
Meanwhile, the campaigning for the corporation polls in Narayanganj, 16 km south-east of Dhaka, is gaining momentum. The rival AL and BNP mayoral candidates along with their supporters are making door-to-door visits to woo voters. The councillor candidates, too, are following the routine in their respective wards.
The port city wears a festive look, with the supporters of the candidates putting up posters, banners and festoons, and raising slogans in favour of their aspirants during daylong processions. In a related development, civil society platform Sushasoner Jonno Nagorik (Sujan) yesterday urged the government to extend full cooperation to the EC for holding free and NCC polls. Sujan came up with the call while placing its 13 recommendations at Narayanganj Press Club.
Reading out the points, Sujan’s central coordinator Dilip Kumar Sarker urged the EC to play a strong role so that candidates abide by the electoral code of conduct. The commission must also take measures to ensure a level playing field for all contestants, he added.
The political parties involved in the election should shun the attitude of winning the election at any cost, Sarker said. “Don’t say we must win. Rather say we will accept the people’s verdict,” he urged the mayoral and councillor candidates. The recommendations also included deployment of the Army for the December 22 elections, if necessary.
Over 4.79 lakh voters are expected to cast their ballots to elect the city mayor, 27 ward councillors and nine women councillors (reserved seats). In the last mayoral elections in 2011, Ivy had contested as an Independent candidate and defeated AL-backed Shamim Osman by around 1 lakh votes. The BNP-backed candidate, Khandaker Taimur Alam, had withdrawn at the eleventh hour.