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UPAZILA POLLS

BNP in last-minute efforts to ensure single candidates

Rashed Ahmed Mitul

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party is putting in last-minute efforts to ensure that single party leader contest each of the positions in upazila polls by convincing rebel candidates to drop out of the race in a number of upazilas.
The party is worried about Jamaat-e-Islami extending support for its leaders in the electoral race in a number of upazilas. The BNP, however, has not supported any candidates for the position of chairman in about 10 upazilas, leaving the field for Jamaat leaders, BNP leaders said.
The BNP is now negotiating with its key partner Jamaat about the withdrawal of Jamaat leaders from the race in upazilas where victory can be difficult if leaders of both the parties are in the race, leaders said adding that Jamaat also extended support for its candidates in upazilas that are known as BNP strongholds.
Elections to 98 upazila councils will be held in the first phase on February 19.
A five-member monitoring cell of the BNP is working round-the-clock keeping in touch with the party’s grass-roots and central leaders to ensure single candidates for each of the positions.
The cell on upazila council polls elections is composed of the party’s joint secretaries general Barkatullah Bulu, Mohammad Shahjahan, Salahuddin Ahmed and Ruhul Kabir Rizvi and training affairs secretary Kazi Asad.
Ruhul Kabir Rizvi told New Age on Wednesday that the cell had been in touch with district leaders, especially where more than one leaders of the BNP were contesting for a single position.
In reply to a question, he said that disciplinary action would be taken against the rebel candidates if they did not withdraw themselves from the race.
Rizvi claimed that the number of rebel candidates in the first phase of upazila elections was gradually reducing.
Party leaders on Wednesday failed to give the number of upazila where more than one BNP leaders are contesting the elections. It could be known in three to four days, the party sources said, adding that in 40 per cent of the upazilas, there are more than one leaders contesting the polls.
A monitoring cell member said the number of rebel candidates is comparatively less in the second-phase elections.
Elections to 117 upazilas would be held in the second phase on February 27 and the the third-phase elections will be held to 83 upazilas on March 15.
Elections to all the 487 upazila councils are likely to be completed in phases within first week of May.
The BNP and its allies which boycotted the parliamentary elections, which took place on January 5, decided to support party leaders contesting upazila elections to hold back its field-level leaders and activists and as part of the movement.




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