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Dhaka Tribune

Awami League ready for polls, BNP yet to decide

According to the Election Commission, the polls will be held in the last week of December, and the election-time government will be formed in the last week of September

Update : 08 Sep 2018, 01:22 AM

With the 11th parliamentary election only four months away, the ruling Awami League has nearly completed election preparations while arch rival BNP is yet to decide on its plan.

According to the Election Commission, the polls will be held in the last week of December, and the election-time government will be formed in the last week of September.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith said earlier this week that it was his “guess” that the national election may be held on December 27.

He also said he believed the election-time government would be formed by the end of September.

Awami League’s preparations near complete

The ruling Awami League has completed almost 90% of its election preparations and is now working on its election manifesto. 

According to AL sources, the party’s election campaign began on July 30 with prime minister and Awami League president Sheikh Hasina’s Sylhet tour.

Hasina also visited Khulna, Jessore, Chandpur, Chittagong, and several other places, asking voters to cast their ballot for the boat symbol “in order to continue the country’s development”.

Senior leaders of Awami League have also visited several districts for election purposes.

According to Awami League think tank Centre for Research and Information (CRI), the organization has been running online election campaigns in addition to field-level visits by senior party leaders. 

The CRI has also trained Awami League leaders and lawmakers on the use of social media in order to make the election campaign a success.

Awami League Joint General Secretary Abdur Rahman said the prime minister has directed Awami League leaders to reach out to the grassroots and inform them about the government’s plans for development. 

As per Sheikh Hasina’s directives, lawmakers and aspiring candidates have been informing the public about the government’s development plans and asking them to vote for the boat symbol. 

AL’s national election steering committee 

In April, Awami League formed a National Election Steering Committee for the 11th parliamentary polls.

Awami League President Sheikh Hasina has been appointed chairman of the committee, while HT Imam, a member of the party’s advisory council, has been appointed as co-chairman, according to an Awami League press release.

In addition, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader has been appointed as member secretary of the committee.

The National Election Steering Committee is working to finalize Awami League candidates for the polls, and is also working on the party’s election manifesto.

Candidates almost selected 

Awami League Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif said the party already has selected party candidates for the next election, but their names will not be declared until after the election schedule is announced.

Meanwhile, Joint General Secretary Abdur Rahman claimed only Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina knows about the candidate selection process, and she will take the final decision.

Before finalizing the list of candidates, Awami League has carried out partial groundwork for the next polls by conducting surveys to learn about the prospective candidates’ popularity in their constituencies.

Reports from law enforcement agencies and foreign survey groups were also being collected for evaluation.

BNP still in dark 

BNP Standing Committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain has said BNP must take part in the election, because the people of Bangladesh want to see the party in power. 

However, he added that the party would only participate if BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia is released, and the election is held under a neutral government.

“As the election is in front of us, we are working to ensure our demands are met. Before anything, our chairperson must be released,” he said.

“BNP wants a neutral polls-time government, and we will continue our movement until that happens.”

Furthermore, BNP Standing Committee member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury said an election-time government has to be made after dialogue with all political parties. 

“Until the government holds dialogues with the parties over the election-time government, we will continue our movement,” he said.

“We want to participate in the national polls, but they must be conducted properly.

“We are certainly preparing for the elections, but our biggest concern is the movement for the formation of a neutral government and our chairperson’s release from jail.” 

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