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Ensure single AL candidate for upazila polls, PM tells ministers

Staff Correspondent

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday asked her cabinet colleagues to ensure single candidate from the ruling Awami League in the upcoming Upazila Parishad elections.
Presiding over the weekly cabinet meeting at the secretariat, she urged the ministers and state ministers to sit with district AL leaders of the areas they were assigned to look after to make sure that the party decisions were maintained in selecting candidates for Upazila chairman and vice-chairman in the polls to 487 Upazila Parishads scheduled to be held in phases from February. 
AL should take the local body polls seriously since the Bangladesh Nationalist Party led-18 party alliance has now decided to field candidates to the local body polls after boycotting the January 5 general elections, a minister told New Age quoting Sheikh Hasina as saying in the meeting.
‘From her directives, it is clear to us that Upazila election gives us a scope to revive the government’s image and therefore AL will take it seriously although this is not a political election,’ the minister added.
‘They (BNP-led alliance) have missed the train of the national polls. Now they are embarking on the upazila express… Make sure single candidate from AL contests in each area for Upazila chairman and vice-chairman posts,’ the minister quoted the PM as having said. 
Hasina, also AL president, gave the directives as health minister Mohammed Nasim picked up the Upazila election issue for discussion during the cabinet meeting.
In the first phase, the local body polls will be held in 98 Upazilas on February 19 and in 117 on February 27. The elections to the rest of the Upazila councils would be held in March and May.
BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia has also asked her party leaders to make sure that not more than one candidate of BNP could contest in each post of Upazila chairman and vice-chairman.
 Central leaders of Awami League in seven teams will begin countrywide tours from January 30 in a bid to revitalise the grassroots network of the party ahead of the Upazila Parishad elections.
Besides, the team members would work for ensuring single party candidate for the posts of Upazila chairman and vice-chairman, AL leaders said.
AL organising secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim told New Age that during the countrywide visit the teams would also hold workers’ meetings at grassroots level and council sessions for the tenure-expired district units.
AL central working committee member Khairuzzaman Liton said the party would try its best to ensure single candidate in the Upazila polls through consensus among the grassroots leaders.
He said that the party would take tough organisational action against those party leaders who would become rebel candidates in the Upazila elections, defying the party decisions. 

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