Election officials have rejected BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s nominations for all three seats in which she was running. Feni Deputy Commissioner Md Wahiduzzaman and Bogura and Deputy Commissioner Faiyez Ahamed, who are serving as the returning officers for the seats, announced that her applications were rejected during the scrutiny by officials on Sunday.
The returning officers cited the two prison terms, both over two years, that the BNP chairperson has received over graft.
BNP officials said they will challenge the rejections with the Election Commission. BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi claims the rejections are part of the governments plans.
Khaleda has been in jail since February after being sentenced to prison in the Zia Orphanage Trust case. She is currently facing 10 years in prison over that case and another seven years in the Zia Charitable Trust graft case.
BNP leaders had been hopeful that she would be able to compete in the Dec 30 general election by appealing the decisions. They had granted her an initial approval from the party for three seats, one in Feni and two in Bogura.
But the High Court issued the verdict last week, saying that people sentenced to two or more years in prison are not qualified for elections unless the sentence was stayed or overturned on appeal.
That prevents Khaleda and several other BNP leaders from competing in the parliamentary election. The BNP has prepared three alternate candidates to run in the polls from the seats approved for Khaleda.
Dhaka Metropolitan South Jubo Dal President Rafiqul Islam Majnu submitted his nomination alongside Khaleda for the Feni-1 seat. The returning officer has declared his candidacy valid.
BNPs Chhagalnaiya Upazila President Noor Ahmed Majumdar had also submitted his application for the seat, but his will be cancelled as he did not receive the partys final approval.
The current MP for the Feni-1 seat, JaSaDs Shirin Akhtar, will compete for the ruling coalition using the Awami Leagues boat symbol. Her application has also been declared valid by the returning officer.
According to the returning officer, 14 people had submitted their nomination forms as of Nov 29. Ten of them were approved.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir had submitted his nomination for the Bogura-6 (Sadar) seat as the alternative candidate to Khaleda. Mirza Fakhrul was announced as the valid candidate for the seat after Khaledas rejection.
According to Returning Officer Faiyez Ahamed, 11 nomination forms were submitted. Eight of them were approved and three were rejected.
The incumbent in the seat is Jatiya Party Chief Whip Md Nurul Islam Omar. He will run as the ruling Grand Alliances nominee for the seat.
Khaledas adviser and Bogura Municipal Mayor Advocate AKM Mahbubur Rahman had also vied for the paddy sheaf candidacy, but was rejected in favour of Mirza Fakhrul
Gabtali Upazila Parishad Chairman and BNP leader Morshed Milton submitted his nomination as an alternative to Khaleda, but the returning officer rejected his nomination as well.
Faiyez Ahamed said that though Milton had resigned from his post as upazila chairman, his application was invalid as it had not been accepted. But Milton will be able to appeal the decision.
As both of the BNPs candidates have been rejected, there are currently no paddy sheaf candidates for the seat.
Bogura BNP Executive Committee member and Shajahanpur Upazila Parishad Chairman Sarkar Badol had submitted his nomination application, but it was rejected as he did not receive the partys formal approval.
Incumbent Jatiya Party MP Md Altaf Ali will run for re-election from the seat as the Grand Alliance candidate.
Fourteen nominees had applied for the seat, the returning officer said. Seven were accepted, while seven others were rejected.