The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is unlikely to take part in the forthcoming upazila parishad elections with the "sheaf of paddy" symbol under the present government, according to party sources.
BNP leaders think they were deceived by the government and the EC during the parliamentary elections and thats why they dont want to take part in any election under the present government and the EC, said the sources. At a meeting on Tuesday, the partys standing committee members took the decision, moving away from its previous decision, in principle, to take part in the local government elections, sources added. A senior leader, preferring anonymity, however, said that any BNP leader can take part in the polls, but he/she will have to resign from the party first and would not get the party symbol to contest.
The standing committee members argued that there is no logic in taking part any election under the AL and the present EC after the massive rigging and manipulating in the just concluded national elections.
The party will convey its stand to its partners in the two alliances, said the leader.
The BNP came up with the decision following the setback of the party and its partners within the Jatiya Oikyafront and 20-Party Alliance in the December 30 “engineered” parliamentary polls.
Most of the Oikyafront and 20-Party Alliance candidates were defeated massively by ruling party candidates. The Awami League-led Grand Alliance won 298 parliamentary seats out of 299.
The Oikyafront candidates won only eight seats.
The EC is going to hold elections to about 500 Upazila Parishads sometimes in March.
For the first time, the polls will be held on party lines and candidates would contest on a registered political partys symbol.
BNP standing committee member Lt Gen (Retd) Mahbubur Rahman told The Independent that most of the standing committee members are not in favour of taking part in the upazila elections.
“We think we were deceived by the Election Commission during the parliamentary polls. Thus, we do not want to take part in any election under the present EC,” he said.
The former Army chief further said the present EC has lost its acceptability by holding the December 30 elections.
BNP vice-chairman Shamsuzzaman Dudu said they dont believe that a free and fair election can be held under the present government, EC, the administration and law enforcement agencies.
“The EC has proved that it is not capable of holding a free and fair election,” he said.
The BNP leader said they are putting emphasis on the need to work for restoration of democracy by waging a tougher movement.
EC secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed said at a press briefing on January 9 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 within 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 elections on January 5.