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Schedules likely today, polls in Feb

Awami League, BNP getting ready

Rashed Ahmed Mitul with Taib Ahmed and Mahamudul Hasan

The government is planning to hold upazila council elections in late February while some Bangladesh Nationalist Party leaders are thinking about contesting the local government polls, leaders of the Awami League and the BNP told New Age on Saturday.
Awami League leaders said that the party was looking for suitable candidates for the elections while leaders of the BNP, which boycotted the national elections held on January 5, said that they had informally asked party activists to get ready for the polls.
Officials at the Election Commission said that they could announce the schedule for the elections to more than 100 upazila councils today.
‘The stipulated time for holding elections to some of the upazila councils will expire in the middle of February. So, we have a compulsion to hold the polls,’ the chief election commissioner, Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad, told reporters after a meeting with representatives of several ministries on Saturday.
The commission met the education, and the primary and mass education secretary and representatives of the local government division and other ministries concerned about the holding of the polls any day during a gap of the SSC examinations that begin on February 9.
‘We will decide the day for the polling after we look into the information we have received from ministry representatives,’ Rakibuddin said.
Rakibuddin said that the commission was trying to hold the polling in a way that would not hamper the SSC exams.
Commission officials said that the prime minister political adviser HT Imam and economic affairs adviser Mashiur Rahman at the meeting on Thursday requested the commission to hold the upazila polls as early as possible.
Ruling Awami League leaders said that the party was looking at the forthcoming upazila council elections as a means to rejuvenate the party grass roots and gain people’s confidence after winning the national elections that took place with a low voter turnout and more than a half of the seats elected uncontested.
They said that the party was taking the upazila council elections seriously as the BNP had planned to speed up its movement against the government by fielding candidates for the elections.
The Awami League’s central executive committee member Khairuzzaman Liton told New Age that the they were thinking about how to revive the party grass roots and to field good candidates.
‘It is local government elections and there is no chance for political parties to directly get involved in the elections. So, we will be working on how to provide good candidates and support them. We will also work on stopping rebels contesting the polls against candidates backed by the party,’ he said.
Khairuzzaman, also a former mayor of Rajshahi, hinted that the party would bring in many new faces with good image to contest the polls.
The BNP chairperson’s advisory council member Ruhul Alam Chowdhury, meanwhile, told New Age on Saturday that he thought that no elections should be avoided.
‘I personally support contesting the upazila council elections,’ he said. Ruhul, also a former caretaker government adviser, said that as the BNP did not take part in the national elections, it would now be difficult for it to hold the grass roots if it did not participate in the local government elections.
He said that the BNP has chances to do good in the upazila council elections as the party has the acceptability among people.
Ruhul, also a retired army officer, said that if the BNP won in the local government elections, it would have a positive impact on the current anti-government movement as the movement got going after the landslide victory of BNP-backed candidates in the five city elections in June-July 2013.
He, however, said that the BNP was yet to make any decision on its participating in the upazila council elections.
The third upazila council elections were held on January 22, 2009. Elections were held to 481 upazila councils at the time. There are now 487 upazila councils in the country.
The tenure of the upazila councils begins on the day the council meet for the first time.

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