The BNP will use the upcoming city corporations’ elections in six cities as a test case to observe the conduct of the government and Election Commission (EC) so they can make a decision on whether to take part in the next general elections.
Polls to six city corporations -- Rangpur, Rajshahi, Khulna, Sylhet, Barisal and Gazipur will be held before the 11th parliamentary elections, which is likely to be held in early January 2019.
According to senior BNP leaders, the party will declare future political programmes ahead of national elections depending on the conduct and neutrality of EC during the city polls.
BNP, meanwhile, has been buoyed by its candidate Monirul Haque Sakku’s landslide victory in the recent Comilla City Corporation election.
The party will monitor the behaviour of both the government and the EC during the city polls. In the meantime, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia will submit the layout for “poll-time supporting government”.
After that, BNP will start campaigning. But they are also planning for a movement if the city polls turn out to be biased.
BNP Standing Committee Member Dr Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said: “City corporation elections are important. So we will closely monitor the government and EC behaviour during the polls. City polls are a test case for all, including the government and EC.”
“It is a question about observing who passes the test - EC or the govt. We will take a decision on taking part in the next general election accordingly.”
He also added that Khaleda Zia would place the proposal for “poll-time supporting government” at the right time after returning from London.
BNP sources said the party has been campaigning to attract new supporters from July, which will continue till September. BNP and its front organisations will announce month-long programmes centring BNP’s founding anniversary on September 1. They will start mass-campaign in October and will prepare for city polls from November to January. And party chief Khaleda Zia will place the election-time supporting government proposal by this time.
Several reliable sources in BNP said they had finalised the list of possible candidates for the city polls. Khaleda Zia will take the final decision regarding their candidacy.
Few BNP leaders hinted that the party-backed mayors in Barisal and Gazipur City Corporations could be dropped from the list and they have a surprise plan for Rangpur.
BNP leaders, close to Begum Khaleda Zia, said that BNP had played a vital role in forming the Election Commission. Even one of the present election commissioners was recommended by BNP during dialogue with the President Abdul Hamid.
“Basically, movements take place in our country during winter. So we have an year to call for a movement if we see irregularities in city polls,” Dr Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said further.
BNP Vice Chairman Shamsuzzaman Dudu said: “We always take part in city corporation elections, and will do so in the future. However the last general election, through which this government was formed, was not fair.”
“The Chief Election Commissioner did not hold talks with all regarding the elections. We will take part in city polls, but our main concern is the 11th national elections,” the senior BNP leader added.
The article was first published on Bangla Tribune