Most of the grass roots leaders and activists of opposition BNP are unhappy with the party high command for boycotting the ongoing elections to local government bodies, including union parishad.
The party insiders said a number of central leaders also think that BNP should have participate in the local body polls to carry out campaigns in favour of their various demands and reach the voters, including new ones, with their party’s election symbol ‘Sheaf of Paddy’.
BNP had boycotted the 9th parliamentary elections held on January 5, 2014. However, it participated in the 10th parliamentary polls held on December 30, 2018 under the Awami League government though it brought allegations of widespread vote-rigging and stuffing of ballot boxes.
The party continued to contest elections to the local government bodies with its symbol until February this year.
After joining the municipal polls in February last, BNP decided to boycott the union parishad elections.
“We thought the government would hold a fair election in local government units and the Election Commission would arrange fair elections but the incidents that took place in upazila, municipality and union parishad polls were so frustrating that BNP decided not to participate in the upcoming UP elections,” BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told a press conference on February 28.
He said the party opposed the decision of party-based nomination in the local government elections.
He also said a number of party leaders at the grass roots level want to get the party ticket to contest the polls which created division and fuelled internal conflict in the party.
The BNP leader said there is no possibility for the BNP candidates to win the local government polls under the current government.
BNP sources said the party senior leaders are also divided over the issue of participation in the polls under the current government while most of the party men from central to grass roots levels are unhappy with the party high command for boycotting the UP elections.
Asked about boycotting the local government polls, BNP Standing Committee member Barrister Jamiruddin Sircar declined to make any comment in this regard. “I have no comment in this regard.”
BNP sources said a large number of grass roots leaders and atavists were in favour of joining the UP polls in a bid to remain active in the election field with the party symbol and keep the party rejuvenated.
Many grass roots leaders have participated in the ongoing UP elections in different places across the country, violating the party decision. Some party candidates have already won the chairman and member posts in different unions.
Talking to the Daily Sun, some UP-level leaders of the party said if BNP would have participated in the UP elections, many more candidates would have come out victorious with the ‘Sheaf of Paddy’.
Party sources said a number of BNP candidates participated in the first-phase elections held in 204 UPs on June 21 and 160 UPs on September 20 while around 10 candidates came out victorious.
The party leaders claimed that around 70 chairman candidates from BNP won the second-phase UP elections held in 834 union prishads on November 11. They contested the polls as independent candidates.
The third-phase UP polls will be held on November 28 where about 370 leaders and activists of the party will take part. Highest 33 are in Bogura while 15 in Thakurgaon and Dinajpur each, 18 in Lalmonirhat, 20 in Kurigram, 28 in Naogaon, 15 in Kushtia, 19 in Jashore, 21 in Sylhet and 19 in Moulvibazar.
Talking to the Daily Sun, Abdur Rouf, a local BNP leader who contested the Tantiband union parishad polls in Sujanagar upazila of Pabna and lost to the Awami League candidate, said, “The Awami League candidate snatched my victory as the administration backed him.”
Another union-level leader of Pabna Sadar upazila, wishing not to be named, told the Daily Sun that boycotting the UP polls is a wrong decision of the BNP central command. “If the party candidates contest the polls with the ‘Sheaf of Paddy’, it’ll become clear to the people why election is not held in a fair manner under the party government.
Asked whether BNP will take action against the party leaders who are participating in the UP polls violating the central decision, Siddiqur Rahman Siddique, member secretary of Pabna district BNP, said, “We have no instruction from the central command in this regard. We’ve told neither to extend support nor to take any organisational action against the candidates.”