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UZ polls : AL goes full steam ahead, BNP hobbles

Published : Monday, 14 January, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 583

With the landslide victory in the national election on December 30, enthusiastic grassroots leaders and activists of Awami League (AL) are actively in the field to pull another victory in upazila elections while a hobbled BNP is yet to make up its mind over participating in the race.
The Election Commission (EC) plans to organise 5th Upazila Parishad Elections, the vital local government body, in several phases from the first week of March, EC Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed said on Thursday.
District and upazila level leaders of BNP are apparently frustrated and they are rarely found in the field after the national election, the Daily Observer correspondents from different district reported.   
But, a good number of AL aspirants in each of the 487 upazilas, have started their effort to bag support from the party as well as people and are involved in indirect campaign, they said.   
Awami League's aspiring candidates for chairman are preparing for the upazila election in six upazilas of Narsingdi, our correspondent reports.
The names of some of the contenders have already been announced as activists want to see their favourite leaders as chairmen. Potential candidates have also started lobbying in their party's electoral areas.
According to sources in BNP, the party will hold its working committee meeting in February and will finalise its decision about participating in the upazila elections.  Presently BNP is not in a position to contest the election, as the party is yet to get healed from the shock of the defeat in general election.
The party leaders, including the grassroots, are divided over the issue of participating in the election.
"We cannot expect a fair election under this Election Commission. The national election was a total farce. This undemocratic government is continuing its repressive policy against the opposition," said BNP Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.
"Many of our leaders, even some upazila chairmen, are still in jail. Our activists are hiding either to save lives from attacks of ruling party activists or to evade arrests. In this situation we cannot decide about the upazila election."

BNP Standing Committee Member Lt Gen (Retd) Mahbubur Rahman, however, said the party may contest the election. The decision will be finalised after announcement of the election schedule. Kamrul Islma Md Walid, President of the Mymensingh Sadar Upazila unit of BNP, said he was willing to contest the upazila polls, but was eyeing the central's decision.
"I bagged 50 thousand more votes than the Awami League candidate. We are mentally prepared. If our party decides to participate in the election and nominates me, I will contest and win," he said.

Political analysts are saying that BNP may face another debacle if the party does not contest in the election. Many of its local leaders will leave BNP and join other parties like Bikalpadhara Bangladesh and Jatiya Party, if the party top bosses decide to abstain from the election race.

"BNP has lost its efficacy to a great extent in the national level politics. The party will lose its footing from the grassroots as well, if they do not participate in the upazila election," National University Vice-Chancellor Prof Harun-or-Rashid said.

The 4th edition of the upazila parishad polls was held in seven phases in 2014. According to Section 17(1) (Ga) of the Upazila Parishad Act 1998, upazila parishad elections have to be held within 180 days of the expiration of the previous upazila parishad's tenure.

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