The BNP is going to contest the upcoming city corporation election, party sources say, which will also put to test the popularity of its incarcerated Chairperson Khaleda Zia.
As part of the decision, it has already finalized probable candidates for Khulna and Gazipur. Although the party picked incumbent Mayor Moniruzzaman Moni for Khulna, it has chosen Hasan Uddin Sarkar, a freedom fighter and former parliamentarian, for Gazipur.
However, BNP Standing Committee member Khandker Mosharraf Hossain has said a joint meeting of the party, scheduled for March 27, will decide about taking part in the polls.
Although the party’s Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has said they are mulling about city corporation election, the party has finally opted for the polls as part of its movement and efforts to “restore democracy,” insiders say.
Sources say the party has contested in all local government polls under the incumbent Awami League government. Fakhrul has recently said the BNP will think twice about contesting polls to the five city corporations if a congenial atmosphere for the election is not created.
However, BNP Standing Committee members have already decided to take part. The party wants to test the government to see how it deals with the election.
Several party sources say the sweeping victory of BNP-leaning lawyers in the Supreme Court Bar Association polls has made the party optimistic about a positive outcome in the city corporation election.
They are hopeful about good results using the popularity of the party’s head Khaleda Zia, currently serving a five-year jail term in a corruption case.
“The only reason for victory in the bar election is Khaleda Zia’s popularity,” BNP chairperson's media wing official Shairul Kabir Khan says. “Lawyers are not taking her incarceration lightly. People are angry too. This will become evident in the city polls."
He said: “If the BNP leadership decides to contest, then we will be able to see the extent of Khaleda Zia’s popularity.”
'The chosen ones'
BNP leaders are not openly making any statements about the party’s choice.
Several party sources say the BNP leadership is not going with incumbent Gazipur Mayor MA Mannan in the next election as he is ill. Although his son has wanted to represent the party, BNP policymakers have chosen freedom fighter Hasan.
Khulna Mayor Moni is the party’s preferred candidate.
However, the party’s Khulna divisional unit Organizing Secretary Nazrul Islam Monju says the BNP is yet to decide on going to polls.
“We have informed the central command after discussion. They will decide about contesting the election. Moreover, there it is a question of going to polls with Khaleda Zia behind bars,” he has said.
Moni declined to comment, saying: “The party will inform after taking a decision.”
BNP central committee member Hasan, the probable candidate for Gazipur, says he hopes to get the nomination if the party goes to polls. “I hope the party will remain united. I grew up in Gazipur and live here. I will share the people’s joy and grief. I have no house in Dhaka.”
He says incumbent Mayor Mannan is ill and hopes that the latter will assist him.
BNP’s Dhaka district unit President and divisional Organizing Secretary Fazlul Haque Milon has said they are yet to decide whether the party will take part in the election. “Once the election schedule is announced, it will be clear who our candidates are,” he says.
Standing Committee member Nazrul Islam Khan says: “We usually contest in the local government elections. We will be able to say whether we will take part [in the city corporation polls] after the announcement of the schedule.”
This article was first published on banglatribune.com