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Rajshahi city polls: Jamaat is yet to join BNP on the campaign trail

  • Published at 08:15 pm July 15th, 2018
  • Last updated at 08:59 pm July 15th, 2018
Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul, centre (white paunjabi), mayoral candidate of BNP-led 20-party alliance in Rajshahi city polls, campaigns along with party leaders and activists in the city on Saturday, July 14, 2018 Dhaka Tribune

Campaigning of the mayoral and councillor candidates in Rajshahi, Sylhet and Barisal city corporations are well underway. The votes in the three cities are slated for July 30.

However, there is yet to be an agreement between BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami about putting all support behind one candidate of the 20-party alliance with the election just two weeks away.

BNP alone is currently on the campaign trail of the coalition’s Rajshahi mayoral candidate Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul. But Jamaat and the other ally parties are yet to join them.

Candidates of both BNP and Jamaat are still separately campaigning in Sylhet, with the former repeatedly urging the Islamist party to withdraw from the race.

With Jamaat yet to pull out from the race and giving their support to the alliance candidate, commentators are saying that the confusion and contradiction caused by two mayoral runners from one alliance will definitely benefit the other contenders.

All 14 parties in the Awami League-led coalition are campaigning for their mayoral runner in Rajshahi city polls AHM Khairuzzaman Liton.

Many are also wondering whether Jamaat would decide about Rajshahi after the confusion surrounding their candidate in Sylhet is cleared.

The party, which is not registered with the Election Commission anymore, had started minor campaigning for its Rajshahi city unit Secretary Siddique Hossain under the banner of Nagorik Committee, declaring him as an independent candidate.

But his nomination papers were not collected later following directives from the top brass.

However, Jamaat leaders and activists are set to contend as independent runners in 14 general wards and two reserved seat wards of Rajshahi city. But they are yet to begin campaigning.

A total of 318,138 citizens of Rajshahi city will vote at 138 polling centres to elect one mayor, 30 general councillors and 10 reserved seat councillors on July 30.

What Jamaat wants

Reached for comment, Jamaat’s Rajshahi city unit chief Abu Mohammad Selim said they had no problems with BNP and their mayoral candidate Bulbul.

He said: “It’s not about campaigning for Bulbul or not, because we do not have any contenders and have already agreed that Bulbul is the 20-party alliance’s mayoral runner.

“It’s the administration that is not allowing Jamaat to carry out formal activities. We cannot organize informal gatherings. We are still facing arrests and harassments. Many of our leaders and activists are behind bars, while some are still in hiding.”

Selim continued: “Our leaders and activists cannot even stay in their homes. How will they campaign? Those who are running for councillor posts are also unable to campaign due to obstructions.”

He said if the 20-party alliance had chosen Jamaat’s candidate for the mayoral race in Rajshahi, “then we would have planned and carry out the campaigns. But none of those are happening now.”

The Rajshahi Jamaat leader said they were not much interested in the situation in Sylhet city, but added: “It will either be our candidate representing the alliance or both (BNP and Jamaat’s) candidates will be on the campaign trail separately.”

He said: “We do want our candidate to represent the coalition in at least one of the 12 city corporations. We supported their (BNP) candidates in 11 cities. Should they give us at least one?

“If they think Jamaat can bag so many votes, we should not have to make requests. It should be their responsibility to at least give us one,” said Selim.

He added: “We need our candidate to run for mayor in at least one city corporation were the previous mayor was from our coalition, so that we can boost the confidence of our leaders and activists. Winning or losing comes later.”