The ruling Awami League (AL), in its pursuit of a fiercely competitive general election, finds itself at odds with its grand alliance partners, who staunchly refuse to contest the upcoming polls against the ruling party's election symbol, Nouka (boat).
The grand alliance partners are steadfast in their resolve to vie for victory, not merely participate in the democratic process, advocating for a joint candidacy under the symbol Nouka.
The formidable Jatiya Party (JP-Ershad), opposition force in current parliament, has escalated the tension by urging the AL to withdraw its candidates from approximately 60 constituencies. This move is intended to facilitate an unimpeded path for JP nominees in the January 7 polls, as they express doubts about their ability to secure victory against the widely recognised Nouka symbol.
In the preceding days, high-ranking AL leaders engaged in separate deliberations with counterparts from the Jatiya Party and the 14-party alliance. Despite these efforts, a consensus on the crucial matter of seat-sharing or seat-compromise remains elusive.
Internal sources suggest that the AL is open to negotiations with the top leaders of allied parties concerning the allocation of seats. However, a significant sticking point emerges as they adamantly resist withdrawing independent candidates. The party fears that such a move might diminish voter turnout and invites the potential for criticism, especially if independent candidates are perceived to bow under administrative pressure.
In a conversation with this correspondent regarding the pesky issue, Obaidul Quader, General Secretary of the AL, said, "Discussions are currently underway with our alliance partners concerning seat allocation for the upcoming general elections. I am optimistic that we will be able to reach a consensus on the issue by December 17.”
When reached for comment, Rashed Khan Menon, the president of the Workers Party, stated, “We are alliance partners of the ruling Awami League, and therefore, we aspire to jointly participate in the 12th parliamentary polls using the electoral symbol Nouka.”
Meanwhile, the JP has been the AL's principal ally in the past three elections, playing a pivotal role in the opposition within the last two parliaments. As another election looms on the horizon, tensions between the Awami League and the Jatiya Party have reached a crescendo.
In recent meetings held on Tuesday and Wednesday between the top brass of the Awami League and the Jatiya Party, discussions have intensified, reflecting the gravity of the impasse that threatens the unity of this formidable political alliance.
JP nominees, particularly its prominent leaders, express concerns about their electoral success as the Awami League has yet to reach a consensus on seat-sharing with them. Speculation in political circles suggests that the Jatiya Party (JP) might withdraw from the race at the eleventh hour if ensuring victory for its top leaders becomes challenging.
Preferring to remain anonymous, a senior JP leader expressed, "Should the leadership of the ruling AL fail to reach a compromise with JP, their candidates may face challenges securing victory in the polls, especially when contesting against Nouka for practical reasons. Consequently, they urge the ruling AL not to field any candidates against JP nominees."
Both the Awami League and the Jatiya Party have unveiled the names of their candidates for 298 and 287 constituencies, respectively. In the 2018 national polls, the Awami League strategically refrained from fielding candidates in 26 constituencies where Jatiya Party nominees contested, resulting in the JP securing victory in 21 of those seats.
However, the scenario was different in the 145 constituencies where candidates from both the JP and the AL competed, as nominees from the opposition party lost their security deposits in all of these contested areas.
According to the EC announced schedule, the final date for withdrawing candidacy is December 17. A total of 5,864,430 new voters were enlisted in the country’s voter list while of the total voters, 60,445,724 are male and 58,704,879 are female.
Besides, 837 transgender voters were incorporated under the identity of the third gender in the updated roll.