Dhaka,  Sunday
19 May 2024

Upazila Election

Awami League - BNP leaders defy central directives 

M Saiful Islam

Published: 08:20, 19 April 2024

Awami League - BNP leaders defy central directives 

Photo : Messenger

The ruling Awami League and grassroots of BNP, one of the country's political parties, do not comply with the central instructions on the issue of upazila elections. Awami League's directive was that none of the ministers-MPs of the government can influence the upazila elections. This is because the party did not keep the party symbol boat in the election and kept the candidacy open. And BNP has already officially announced the election boycott. After the party's announcement, some leaders withdrew from the polling field, but about 50 candidates are still in the field in the first phase of the election.

Awami League leaders have emphasized taking organisational measures against any attempts to influence the upazila elections, while BNP leaders have threatened expulsion for those disobeying party instructions and participating in the polls. As per the Election Commission's schedule, 480 upazila elections will be held in four phases on May 8, 23, and 29, and June 5. The nomination paper submission deadline for the first phase is April 15, with the selection on April 17, and withdrawal by April 22, followed by voting on May 8.

Many candidates have already collected nomination papers for the first phase, with the ruling Awami League allowing open candidacy for the upazila elections and abstaining from centrally nominating candidates. Moreover, the party has refrained from using its symbol in the upazila elections. Consequently, Awami League has emphasized that government ministers and MPs cannot influence any candidate, reiterating Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's stance that no interference will be tolerated in this election.

However, despite directives from the highest echelons of the party, there are reports of government ministers attempting to influence the upazila elections at the grassroots level. Recent incidents in Natore and Noakhali have garnered attention, with accusations against ruling party ministers and MPs for exerting undue influence. The incident involving the removal of Singra Upazila candidate Delwar Hossain from the district election office, attributed to State Minister Junaid Ahmed Palak, has sparked widespread discussion. Additionally, Noakhali MP Ekramul Haque's statement threatening to halt development if his son is not voted for has further fueled concerns over political interference in the electoral process.

In Jashore's Monirampur upazila election, there are three chairman candidates from the Awami League. Among them, Amjad Hossain Lavlu, the senior vice-president of Upazila Awami League and a prominent party leader, has garnered support from his followers. Additionally, there are reports of former State Minister for Rural Development and Cooperatives, Azizul Islam, the MP for Keshavpur in Jashore, actively campaigning for Nasima Sadek Champa, the joint general secretary of upazila Awami League and current vice-chairman.

Concerns have been raised regarding the undue influence exerted by many upazila party leaders and public representatives in shaping the electoral landscape. Despite claims by these public representatives that they are acting in accordance with central directives, complaints persist that they are, in fact, steering the selection process in their favor.

BM Mozammel Haque, the Organisational Secretary for Khulna Division of the party, stated to The Daily Messenger that organisational measures, and if necessary legal actions, will be taken against individuals who attempt to influence the upazila elections by defying the decisions of the party high command.

In contrast, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has declared a boycott of the upazila elections. This decision was made during the party's standing committee meeting on April 15. Furthermore, the BNP has announced that any party leader who participates in voting for the positions of chairman, vice-chairman, or female vice-chairman in the upazila will face expulsion from the party.

On Monday (April 15), the deadline for the submission of nomination papers for the first phase of upazila parishad elections elapsed. A total of 696 individuals have submitted nomination papers for the chairman's position in 150 upazilas. Notably, 466 leaders affiliated with the ruling Awami League have submitted nomination papers, while 45 leaders from the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) have done so for the chairman's position.

Among the notable BNP candidates are Ayen Uddin Dalim from Dhamoirhat upazila in Naogaon, Sajjad Hossain, the Organizing Secretary of Mahadevpur Upazila BNP, Nuruzzaman Lashkar Tapu, the General Secretary of Brahmanbaria Sarail Upazila BNP, Md. Ramiz Uddin, the former president of upazila Chhatra Dal in Nangalkot, Emran Hasan Pallab, the former general secretary of Municipal BNP in Phulpur, Sardar Afzal Hossain, the vice-president of BNP upazila committee in Natore Naldanga upazila, Faizul Kabir Talukdar, the former general secretary and former vice-chairman of Upazila BNP in Indurkani, and Abdul Quddus, the former vice-president of BNP and former upazila chairman in Bandarban Sadar upazila. Additionally, Md. Sajjad Hossain and Gaus Khan, former organizing secretary and convener respectively of Upazila BNP in Sylhet, have also emerged as notable candidates.

The party has also nominated candidates for the positions of vice-chairman and woman vice-chairman in various upazilas.

Upazila BNP Organizational Secretary Rahena Begum Hashna is poised to be elected uncontested as the vice-chairman in Baralekha upazila of Moulvibazar. Furthermore, sources from the Election Commission have confirmed that 22 chairman candidates from various parties, including Jamaat, have submitted their nomination papers.

Following Monday's standing committee meeting, BNP officially announced its decision to boycott the vote through media channels on Tuesday. Despite this announcement, some leaders have declared their withdrawal from the electoral fray. However, the majority of them have opted to remain active in the electoral process. This indicates a lack of adherence to the central decision even within the grassroots level of the BNP.

BNP Standing Committee member Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury informed The Daily Messenger that Awami League is once again conducting an election marked by vote rigging in the upazila. However, BNP has resolved to boycott this election. Chowdhury emphasised that strict organisational measures will be taken against any party member who participates in the election in defiance of the central directive.