The Jatiya Party chief however, says all his party’s candidates should stay in the race
Jatiya Party (JaPa) Chairman HM Ershad has decided not to run for office in the 11th general election from Dhaka 17 constituency.
At a press briefing held at his Baridhara residence in Dhaka on Thursday evening, he officially extended his support to Akbar Hossain Pathan Farooque, Awami League-led Grand Alliance aspirant for the same seat.
Ershad also asked JaPa leaders and activists to support the Grand Alliance and its candidates across the country.
“The people are with this government. We are happy with the current election environment. This election will be a fair one,” he said.
The JaPa chief’s sudden announcement came a day after he returned home from Singapore, where he spent the last two weeks undergoing medical check-ups and treatment.
“My physical condition is not good. But I returned home to support my sister Sheikh Hasina.”
Ershad said he is certain that the Grand Alliance would win the election.
“I am not going to run for office from Dhaka 17 constituency and will support Awami League candidate Farooque,” he said on Thursday.
His Deputy Press Secretary, Khandaker Delwar Jalali, also told the Dhaka Tribune that actor-activist Farooque had also called on Ershad at his President Park home around 3:30pm on Thursday.
He said Farooque sought Ershad's blessings and support for the election slated for Sunday.
“The chairman has given his full support to Farooque,” added Jalali.
JaPa candidates to stay
Jatiya Party said in a press release on December 9, that they were allocated 29 seats by the Grand Alliance. But according to the list released by the Grand Alliance, Jatiya Party was given 26 seats.
On the following day, Jatiya Party Secretary-General Moshiur Rahman Ranga said JaPa will contest in 29 constituencies from the grand alliance, and run in 147 constituencies on its own.
Ershad said: “I am asking my fellow party men to work for the Grand Alliance.”
Replying to a question from reporters as to whether his support meant JaPa candidates would withdraw, he said those who are strong candidates should contest the polls with JaPa’s symbol, the plough.
In a written clarification issued after the press meet, Ershad said all Jatiya Party candidates outside the Grand Alliance would freely participate in the election.
“They are being instructed not to step down,” the statement said.
‘Election environment satisfactory’
Ershad expressed his satisfaction with the election environment and said voting would take place in a free and fair manner.
He said: “The Election Commission is in our favour.”
Asked what he meant by “our favour” he explained that the Election Commission is in favour of the public and the public are supporting the Grand Alliance.
Asked about violence ahead of the election, he said it was a traditional scenario of the country and said the environment was satisfactory.
Ershad urged voters to cast their votes spontaneously on Sunday and vote for whomever they want.