Friday, November 09, 2018 - 838 hours ago
The Awami League’s (AL's) preparation for contesting the coming general election is almost complete, while its rival, the BNP, is still undecided on joining the polls, though the Election Commission (EC) has already fixed December 23 as the voting day of the 11th parliamentary polls. According to BNP sources, the party is likely to boycott the polls if they fail to realise their demand of holding the polls under a neutral election-time government by waging a movement.
"The BNP is still waiting for an acceptable solution to the political impasse over the polls through talks. If the government fails to meet our demands, we will be forced to find a solution by taking to the street," a party insider said. The BNP, the major opposition party outside Parliament, prefers a movement to join the national polls. BNP leaders said they would have no alternative to a tougher movement against the government if it does not accept their demands.
The BNP had boycotted the 10th parliamentary election held on January 5, 2014. So, 153 AL candidates were elected unopposed. The ruling party has already made elaborate preparations for the polls and completed all work related to the elections.
The party has decided to sell its nomination forms among the aspirant party leaders from today (Friday). The selling of nomination forms will begin at party president Sheikh Hasina’s Dhanmondi political office from 9am.
“We have completed 90 per cent of the preparation for contesting the polls. Now we are working on finalising nominations for popular acceptable leaders. Even the party’s nomination list is almost complete,” said AL joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif.
About the ruling party’s preparation, AL presidium member Lt. Col. (retd) Mohammad Faruk Khan said it is almost complete. A 150-member election steering committee has been formed and it will centrally monitor the whole election process.
“So, I can say that our preparation is good. We have been carrying out informal campaign. Now, with the election schedule having been announced, we will campaign in full swing,” he added.
Replying to a question on the BNP’s participation in the polls, the senior AL leader said they are preparing under the banner of the AL-led Grand Alliance as the BNP has no option but to join the polls.
The ruling party started its campaign from the very beginning of the year, with its leaders offering prayers at the Sylhet Shahjalal Mazar. AL leaders, particularly those seeking nomination, have been carrying out mass contacts, holding workers’ meetings and yard meetings across the country in the last one year and calling upon people to vote for the “boat” symbol.
On the other hand, BNP leaders iterated that the ball is now in the court of the government, since they have placed their demands before the government along with the explanation regarding the Constitution. “We may propose to the government to hold another round of talks to reach an understanding about the polls. But it will depend on the government’s attitude and sincerity,” said a BNP standing committee member, preferring anonymity.
Another standing committee member, Dr Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, however, said no decision has been taken on the next round of dialogue with the government.
He also said they would finalise their next course of action in line with the government’s decision.
Asked if the AL would proceed with its poll activities ignoring the Oikyafront demands, Hossain said they would finalise their next step at the proper forum and inform the media about it.
The former minister criticised the government for arresting opposition leaders and activists, even after the Premier gave them an assurance. “The arrest drive is going on even after the Premier’s assurance during talks that these would stop. The opposite is happening,” he added.
BNP vice-chairman Shamsuzzaman Dudu said they would wait till the last minute for a solution to the political standoff through talks.
“We are still hopeful that our demands will be met through talks. If the government does not meet them, we will have to find the solution on the street,” he warned.
He further said the Oikyafront will finalise its next course of action after hearing the government’s decision.
The Prime Minister held two rounds of dialogue with leaders of the Jatiya Oikyafront at her official residence, Gana Bhaban, on November 1 and 6, but no understanding was reached on holding the polls in a neutral manner.
Ruling party leaders rejected all seven demands, terming these “unconstitutional”, and announced the end of talks.
Oikyafront leaders, during their second round of talks, placed four major demands with constitutional interpretation and proposed that the talks should continue. They also requested the government to defer announcement of the poll schedule until the two sides reachd an understanding over the demands.