By law, these parties must participate in the next election to maintain the validity of their registration
The registration of 27 political parties is at risk of cancellation, if the parties fail to participate in the upcoming 11th parliamentary election. Even BNP, the largest political rival of ruling party Awami League, falls into the above-mentioned category.
As per existing regulations, parties that repeatedly fail to partake in general elections might have their registration revoked by the Election Commission. So, by law, these 27 parties must participate in the next election to keep their registrations valid.
At a glance: The 10th parliamentary election
Of the registered political parties in Bangladesh, only 12 participated in the 10th parliamentary election.
A total of 27 other political parties are facing the cancellation of their registration, if they decide not to, or become unable to, participate in the upcoming election. Most of them were registered by the commission in 2008.
According to the Representation of the People Order (RPO) Article 90H (e), if a political party does not participate in parliamentary elections for two consecutive terms, their registration will be revoked.
Do these parties have a counterstrategy?
For comments on the issue, the Dhaka Tribune reached out to the top leadership of some of the above-mentioned parties at risk of losing their registration, and enquired as to whether they have a counterstrategy.
Islami Oikya Jote
Responding to question, Islami Oikya Jote Chairman of Abdul Latif Nezami said: “We were a member of the 20-party alliance during the 10th general election, so we followed its decision to boycott the polls. We have not been a part of that alliance since 2016.
“Our decision not to take part in the 10th parliamentary election has put our party’s registration at risk. We do not have any plans to boycott the next election. We will participate for the sake of our party.”
Bangladesh Kallyan Party
Echoing this , Bangladesh Kallyan Party Chairman of the Major General (Retd) Syed Mohammad Ibrahim (Bir Protik) said: “We could lose our registration if we fail to participate in the next election. We followed the 20-party alliance’s decision in 2014, but this time we consider ourselves an election-oriented party. However, a final decision in this regard has not yet been made.”
Providing more details, he continued: “We have 12 candidates, including me, ready to contest in selected constituencies. They have been working in their respective areas. We are presently waiting for our alliance’s decision.
“We will make our own decision regarding participating in the next election, right after the alliance’s announcement in this regard.”
Gono Forum President Dr Kamal said: “This is a critical situation for our party, as Gono Forum’s registration is at stake. We could lose our registration by not participating in the next election, as we boycotted the previous one.
“We will discuss the next course of action at a party meeting soon.”
Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal-(Basad)
General Secretary Comrade Khalequzzaman said: “We are preparing, both as a party and as a member of the alliance, to nominate candidates for 300 constituencies in the next election. We already have 200 active prospective candidates, and other alliance members can nominate more.”
Expressing his concerns over the possibility of a free and fair election, Khalequzzaman furthered: “We are aware that failing to participate in the next election might cost us our registration. But we will not participate in the election just to save our registration.
“Our decision to participate in the 11th parliamentary election will be taken after assessing the poll-time political environment.”
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD)
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) General Secretary Abdul Malek Ratan said: “The possibility of having the party registration cancelled is not our primary concern at the moment. We want a free and fair election, and are prepared to nominate candidates in all 300 constituencies.
“Presently, we have around 70 prospective candidates active in their constituencies. If the majority of the political parties decide against participating in the election, how many registrations will the EC cancel?”
Krishak Sramik Janata League
Criticizing the regulations that tackle political party registration, Krishak Sramik Janata League President Abdul Kader Siddique said: “This present system of registration and re-registration is unique to Bangladesh. In many other countries across the world, political parties do not require registration.
“In other countries, people who engage in politics have full political freedom. Bangladesh has a strict system that forces parties to register.”
He continued: “The party will participate in the 11th national poll if a neutral, acceptable and credible election is organized. Our decision will not be influenced by the risk of losing our registration.”
Bangladesher Samyabadi Dal (ML)
Bangladesher Samyabadi Dal General Secretary Dilip Barua confirmed that the party will participate in the next general election.
“We are preparing for the next general election. We, as a member of the 14-party alliance, are planning to nominate candidates in six selected constituencies. We will also nominate 20 candidates from our party for other selected constituencies,” he added.
Jatiya Ganatantrik Party (Jagpa)
Jagpa General Secretary Khandokar Lutfur Rahman is planning to participate in the 11th parliamentary election to avoid the risk of losing their registration.
When asked whether Jagpa will join the election even in the alliance leader BNP decides not to, Lutfur said: “We will make a decision considering the fact that our party registration is presently at risk. The final decision in this regard will come after a party meeting.
“We will surely participate if a fair election is organized.”
Election Commission’s point of view
Commenting of the matter, Election Commission Deputy Secretary Md Abdul Halim Khan pointed out that the commission is yet to make an effort to review the registration eligibility of political parties that did not participate in the last two elections.
“I will look closely into the matter,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
On the other hand, commission Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed said: “The regulations stipulate that if a political party repeatedly fails to participate in the parliamentary elections, their registration will be cancelled.
“However, the commission might show leniency to parties that registered in 2008, but could not participate in the 9th general polls. They did not have much time to prepare. We will allow them to prepare for the upcoming 11th general polls.”
He added that amending the existing law and regulations is no easy feat.
An expert’s opinion
Director of Election Working Group (EWG) Abdul Alim Khan told the Dhaka Tribune: “The related law should be amended, and modernized. The commission should review each party’s eligibility to participate in the election every 5 years.”
Pointing out that the commission lacks an effective monitoring system, Abdul Alim said: “Sometimes a party shows that it has the required number of offices to fulfill the registration criteria. But after being registered, the party’s offices are nowhere to be found. More monitoring is needed.”
He also added that the law should be the same for everyone, and that the BNP’s registration as a political party should be cancelled if they decide not to participate in the next election.
On October 4, the commission cancelled the registration of Oikyabaddha Nagorik Andolan for failing to meet the required criteria. The party was formed by Kazi Faruq Ahmed before the 9th parliamentary election during the period of the caretaker government, and was registered on November 16, 2008.
In 2009, the commission cancelled the registration of the Freedom Party, as it failed to submit its amended charter.
In 2013, the High Court declared Jamaat-e-Islami’s registration illegal and unlawful, as many provisions of its charter ran counter to the country’s constitution and the Representation of the People Order (RPO).
According to commission officials, these abovementioned parties lost their registration because they failed to maintain the mandatory criteria in accordance with the existing regulations.