Leading Awami League leaders are ostensibly downplaying bad performance in the Union Parishad elections held so far. But party insiders say policy planners are getting head spin over the results.
Despite strict warnings from the Central Awami League (AL) party nominated chairmen candidates have been facing challenges from rebels in a maximum number of Union Parishad (UP) and the rebel candidates are doing progressively better in all the phases of the countrywide elections.
Statistics show that AL candidates have won 76 per cent in the first phase of the UP polls, 59 per cent in the second phase, 54 per cent in the third phase and 51 per cent in the fourth phase of UP polls across the country. In 2016, the Boat symbol candidates'
winning rate was 65 per cent.
In the 4th phase of the polls the AL nominated candidates and independent candidates have secured almost the same result. Of them, AL rebel candidates did remarkably well.
In the same phase, the independent candidates have won surprisingly by competing against the Awami League candidates. In this phase, 396 out of the nominated candidates of AL have won. On the other hand, 390 independent candidates have won.
In this phase, voting was held in 840 UPs on December 26 amidst a violent situation. Of these, 48 chairmen were elected unopposed and no vote was taken in those UPs. Again, results are being postponed in several UPs.
Besides, 6 candidates of Jatiya Party, 2 candidates of Islami Andolan Bangladesh, 1 candidate each of Jatiya Party (JP) and Zaker Party have won.
In the 4th phase of voting, almost half of the ruling party candidates for the post of chairman lost. Of them, Boat candidates in 162 UPs remained out of the polls fray.
AL's main political opposition, the BNP, has officially boycotted the local government elections this time. Even then, the rate of victory of AL-backed candidates is decreasing phase by phase. In some unions, Boat candidates got less than 100 votes.
Faridpur district is known as the fertile land of AL politics. Boat candidates have lost in 9 out of 10 unions in Boalmari upazila of the district. Among them, three AL candidates did not get enough votes and lost their security money.
Boat candidate Hasina Begum got only 93 votes in Khatamdhupur union of Syedpur upazila in Nilphamari district.
AL nominated boat symbol candidate Azhar Ali got only 112 votes in Kalai union of Kahalu upazila in Bogura. He got this number of votes in 9 centres. BNP-backed independent candidate Jubaidur Rahman Sabuj has been elected in this union bagging 4,474 votes.
Out of 13 unions in the upazila, only in three unions AL nominated candidates have won. Independent candidates backed by the BNP have won in seven unions. Besides, two AL rebel candidates and one Jamaat candidate have been elected chairman.
AL has won one out of four unions of Khaliajuri upazial in Netrokona district. Two AL rebels and one BNP supported independent candidate have won. Local people complained that qualified aspirants were not nominated here from AL.
In Sylhet, out of 20 unions of Golapganj and Beanibazar upazilas, AL candidates have won in only 7 unions.
In 15 unions of Laxmipur Sadar upazila, rebel candidates have been elected in 7 and Boat candidates in 6 of them. Apart from this, pro-BNP candidates have been unofficially elected chairmen in two of them.
In the 4th phase of UP elections in Katiadi of Kishoreganj, the Boat candidates have won in only 2 of the 9 UPs. In the remaining 7, the rebel and independent candidates have won.
Awami League candidates have lost in 7 of the 9 UPs in Sherpur's Sreevardi upazila. In two of the 7 UPs AL rebel candidates have won.
Local leaders are claiming that the Awami League has suffered a setback in UP polls due to 'nomination trade' and not selecting popular and right candidates.
Regarding the defeat of the party candidates in the 4th phase, Senior Presidium Member of AL and Nomination Board Member Lt Col (retd) Muhammad Faruk Khan told the Daily Observer, "As Awami League is most elderly and popular political party in the country, so it has many competent leaders in the roots level. We have a minimum 10 to 15 capable candidates in every union to compete for the chairman post. As a result, those who get party nominations and the rebels are all very competent candidates."
"However, in local government elections especially in UP polls people vote from an emotional point of view. So in many places rebels are getting sympathy votes," he added.
The senior AL leader also said, "People's economic condition and living standard have been radically changed and developed in the last decade under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. So, the tendency of being a candidate has increased among people."
Echoing Faruk Khan, another AL Presidium Member Abdur Rahman said, "Many people expect the party's nomination in the local government elections. However, nomination has to be given to one person. When they are not nominated, they change their character. They do not play the role that the team needs to play. And that's what has happened."
Meanwhile, AL Joint General Secretary Hasan Mahmud considered the winning of AL rebel candidates positively by saying that there is no other option. At present, Awami League is only the alternative to Awami League. The UP elections have been held with political symbols since the last term of the polls.
"It's seen that those who are winning the elections by defeating 'Boat' symbols are also Awami Leaguers. BNP candidates have been contesting the polls as 'independent', defying their party decision. But, they aren't doing well. The number of winning candidates from BNP and Jatiya Party is very poor. It proves that Awami League is the alternative of Awami League now," added the Information and Broadcasting Minister.
Meanwhile, according to media reports, at least more than hundred people were killed and several hundred injured in the pre-and post-polls violence in last four phases of the UP polls. It is also making the ruling party more worried.
Regarding the recent election violence, political analyst and local government and election expert Badiul Alam Majumdar said, "Commercialization of politics is the main reason for the election violence. Now people are doing politics only for their own benefit. Specially, ruling party leaders and activists are so desperate to use political power for the purpose of money making. As a result, intra-party conflict has increased in the AL camp."
"Besides, the Election Commission is not playing the proper role and it is also responsible for pre and post election violence. If it took proper actions against the candidates who were engaged in violence then it would have been less violent," he added.
While the 12th parliamentary election is approaching, anti-boat vote winning has embarrassed the Awami League policymakers. In most places, the rebels are the main challenges. Political analysts think that AL should find out where the mistakes are in the selection of candidates.