Upazila polls results prompt parties to revise strategies

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BNP-led alliance partners saw their victory in the latest upazila council elections as ‘people’s no confidence’ in the Awami League-led government while the ruling Awami League attributed its failures in the elections to internal conflicts at grass roots in selecting single candidates.
Leaders of parties that New Age has spoken to said that the first-phase election results had prompted them to revise their strategy for the next phases to have an advantage in national politics by doing good in the local government polls.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which did good in the first phase of the elections, is expecting better results in the next phases but leaders also feared that the government, after the Awami League’s failure in the first phase, might try to snatch away the BNP’s victory.
The Awami League, shocked at the first phase election results, on the other hand, has now been resolute to ensure single candidatures in the remaining elections while the partner in its alliance, the Jatiya Party led by HM Ershad, which performed worst in the first-phase elections said that it had not taken the polls ‘seriously.’
The BNP’s ally Jamaat-e-Islami, which has done good in the first-phase elections, said that the it had been a
‘fitting reply to the government’s repression on the party.’ It hopes to do better in the next phases.
BNP leaders won the highest number of positions for the chairman, vice-chairman and vice-chairman reserved for women in polling to 97 upazilas held in the first phase on February 19, with 43 positions of chairman, 32 positions of vice chairman and 34 position of vice-chairmen reserved for women while Awami League leaders won 35 positions of chairman, 24 positions of vice-chairman and 34 positions of vice-chairman reserved for women.
Jamaat-e-Islami leaders won 12 positions of chairman, 23 of vice-chairman and 10 of vice-chairman reserved for women while leaders of the Jatiya Party won one position of upazila chairman, three of vice-chairmen and one of vice-chairman reserved for woman.
Elections to 117 councils are scheduled for February 27, 83 for March 15, 92 for March 23 and 74 for March 31.
Several BNP leaders told New Age that the local government election resutls were a manifestation of the people’s no confidence in the government.
‘The outcome gear up our leaders to do better in the next phases,’ BNP standing committee member Mahbubur Rahman told New Age on Saturday.
Fearing that the outcome of the first-phase upazila polls could prompt the Awami League to resort to manipulation and other means of irregularities to snatch away elections result in the next phases, he said the party would give more attention to resistance against such manipulation by the ruling party.
The BNP’s joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, who is on the five-member monitoring cell of the BNP on upazila polls, claimed that the local government election results were a manifestation of people’s no confidence in the government.
The Awami League’s publicity secretary Hasan Mahmud said that they had results debacle in the first phase of upazila elections because of more than one candidates runnning a single position in in many upazilas.
The Jatiya Party’s secretary general ABM Ruhul Amin Hawlader appeared unwilling to term the party’s performance in the polls a debacle and said this was a non-partisan affair.
‘Local government polls are non-political and it would be illogical if anyone says that the Jatiya Party has lost in the upazila polls,’ Hawlader said.
JP presidium member Mir Abdus Sabu Asud, however, blamed the conflict between Ershad and his wife Raushan Ershad, who is the leader of the opposition in the parliament, for the defeat.
Jamaat-e-Islami Shahbagh thana unit amir Helal Uddin said that upazila polls results were a fitting reply of people to ‘the government’s smear campaign’ against and repression on the party.

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