The BNP-led 20-party alliance has decided to nominate a candidate to contest the upcoming Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) by-election.
BNP’s key ally Jamaat-e-Islami, which had formally nominated a candidate for the by-polls, has hinted at stepping back. BNP’s Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has been tasked with discussing the matter with Jamaat.
The decision was taken at an alliance meeting, headed by BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, on Monday night.
Top leaders of four alliance parties said three topics were discussed at the meeting but the main one was on nominating a candidate for the DNCC by-polls. The alliance members have given the BNP chief the responsibility to pick a candidate and have agreed to work together for the chosen one.
Alliance sources say many were surprised at Jamaat’s move to choose a candidate for the by-polls. Jamaat central leader Abdul Halim told the allies that the nomination of the party’s Dhaka north unit chief Mohammad Selim Uddin was informal and that the matter could be reconsidered.
The DNCC mayor’s office fell vacant last month after the death of Annisul Huq. A by-election is scheduled to be held at end of February.
Andalib Rahman Partho, chairman of Bangladesh Jatiya Party (BJP), said the alliance had agreed to back the candidate picked by Khaleda Zia.
“The main contest will be between the BNP and the Awami League candidates. In this case, a BNP candidate will be the best choice,” he said. “We will work with whoever is nominated by the BNP chief.”
Sources say three issues were mainly discussed at the meeting – candidate for DNCC by-polls, not taking part in polls without Khaleda Zia under any circumstances and the Rangpur City Corporation election.
An alliance leader claimed that the BNP chief had explained the reasons for going ahead with the RpCC polls.
Sources say Kalyan Party chief major general (retd) Syed Muhammad Ibrahim had proposed nominating either Tabith Awal or Partho to contest for DNCC mayor’s office.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam representative Mufti Waqqas said the meeting mainly discussed the DNCC by-election and hoped that the issue over Jamaat's candidate would be resolved through talks.
Those who attended the Monday night meeting include Jamaat leaders Abdul Halim and Abdur Rab Yusufi, Jatiya Party's Mostafa Jamal Haider, BJP's Partho, Kalyan Party chairman Syed Muhammad Ibrahim, Liberal Democratic Party's Redwan Ahmed, Jatiya Ganatantrik Party President Rehana Prodhan, Bangladesh National Awami Party Secretary General Golam Mostafa Bhuiya, Bangladesh People's League Chairman Gorib Newaz, National People's Party's Fariduzzaman Farhad, Abdur Rakib from the Islami Oikya Jote, Khelafat Majlish's Ahmad Abdul Kader, National Awami Party’s (NAP-Bhasani) Azaharul Islam, Jamaat's Abdur Rab Yusufi, Democratic League's Saifuddin Moni, National Democratic Party's Manjur Hossain Isa and BNP's Secretary General Fakhrul.
None of feuding factions of the Bangladesh Labour Party was invited to the meeting.
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune