Several top BNP leaders claimed that the party candidate failed in the Khulna city polls because under the current government, an impartial, fair, and neutral election will never be held- as proven by recent KCC results.
BNP is looking for a fresh strategy to ensure its nominated mayoral candidate wins the upcoming Gazipur City Corporation (GCC) election, which is currently dominated by ruling party Awami League.
The opposition party is trying to determine the reasons for its defeat in the recently held Khulna City Corporation (KCC) polls. BNP thinks this exercise will help the party win voters more effectively for GCC, which is set to be held on June 26.
The party's policymakers and leaders shared this with the Dhaka Tribune.
After losing to Awami League-backed candidate, Talukder Abdul Khaleque, by 68,000 votes in KCC, BNP candidate Nazrul Islam Monju blamed widespread irregularities, vote rigging, and illegal ballot stuffings for his loss.
Several top BNP leaders also claimed their party candidate failed in the Khulna city polls because under the current government, an impartial, fair, and neutral election will never be held- as proven by recent KCC results.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told the Dhaka Tribune: “We have an idea from KCC of how the next city corporation polls are going to play out.”
"Despite the government's claims of having organized a fair and neutral election, the reality was different," said Fakhrul. "This time, we are taking all factors and aspects into consideration."
The secretary-general said victory for his party's candidate would only be obtained if the election is held fairly.
"We saw how the ruling party acted during the KCC," said Fakhrul. "We will have counter strategies to deal with their activities during the Gazipur election."
BNP Senior Joint Secretary General, Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, said the Khulna city polls helped the party get an idea of how "autocratic" the next general election is going to be.
“People have realized that a free and fair election under this government is impossible," said Rizvi. "We want the next general polls under a neutral government."
He further said: “Under the Awami League government, elections will never be held in a fair manner. We want the government's resignation, as well as the release of our party Chairperson, Khaleda Zia, from prison. Without it, a fair election is impossible.”
'Whether election will be fair or not depends upon the EC'
Director of Election Working Group (EWG), Dr Abdul Alim, hoped that what happened during the Khulna city polls will not be repeated in the Gazipur polls.
“Anything can happen," said Alim. "But our observation teams will be following polling at every polling centre. GCC will be fair and impartial."
Alim said the main responsibility of ensuring a fair election lies in the hands of the Election Commission (EC). EWG will only observe the election scenario and report on it.
Whether the Gazipur election will be fair or not depends upon the EC, said Badiul Alam Mazumder, secretary of Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik.
"If it wants, the EC can overcome all obstacles to ensure a fair and free election," said Badiul. "Administration and law enforcement agencies can assist the EC in ensuring this."
But the EC's response during the KCC was not positive, Badiul said. "It is difficult to expect neutrality from the EC considering how it denied the occurrence of any unwanted activities during the Khulna City Corporation polls."
BNP set to be vigilant on the night before GCC
In the last Gazipur City Corporation elections held in 2013, BNP Vice Chairman and former State Minister for Religious Affairs, Prof MA Mannan, secured a landslide victory defeating city unit Awami League President and former Tongi municipality Mayor, Azmat Ullah, by almost 100,000 votes.
This time, BNP will keep a close eye on the poll centres the night before election day, and try to post party guards as part of its new strategy.
After the Eid-ul-Fitr festivities, formal campaigning for GCC elections resumed on Monday.
A total of 11,37,736 voters are expected to cast their votes in the upcoming polls, which will be held with 57 general ward councillors and 19 reserved seats for women. Of them, 569,935 are males, and 567,801 females.