Although its registration as a political party was withheld over its controversial role during the 1971 Liberation War, the Jamaat-e-Islami has announced that it will nominate its own candidates to contest the forthcoming elections to six city corporations.
The party’s top brass said they had already finalized a decision in this regard to choose and back their candidates in the city elections.
On December 3, Jamaat nominated its Dhaka north unit Ameer (chief) Md Selim Uddin to contest the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) mayoral by-polls scheduled for February 26. On Wednesday, it announced the name of another leader – Siddiq Hossain, secretary general of the Rajshahi city unit Jamaat — as a candidate for the Rajshahi city polls.
According to party insiders, Jamaat would soon disclose the names of candidates for elections to the Sylhet, Barisal, Khulna and Gazipur city corporations.
Requesting anonymity, a member of the Jamaat Central Working Committee said Jamaat leaders in the cities had been tasked with picking candidates for the elections.
“Contestants for elections to the DNCC and Rajshahi city corporation have already been finalized, and selection of candidates for the other four cities is underway.”
Facing flak from within alliance
A member of the BNP-led 20-party combine, Jamaat drew criticism from the other alliance partners over choosing candidates without holding consultations with the alliance.
On January 8, the party’s move to name its candidate for the DNCC by-polls was discussed at a meeting of the alliance, chaired by its chief, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia.
However, Jamaat leaders said they would withdraw their candidates only if the alliance reaches an “agreement” with the party.
“Our party has chosen a candidate [for the DNCC by-polls], but the matter is open to other alliance members, for discussion,” said Jamaat’s Executive Council member Maulana Abdul Halim, who was present at the meeting.
A member of the party’s policy-making body Majlish-e-Shura said: “Our mayoral candidates will merely act as a bargaining chip. If the alliance raises any objection, then we will withdraw them and choose candidates only for the councilor posts.”
Central Working Committee member Ehsanul Mahbub claimed: “I think that our decision to individually contest the elections will not affect our alliance’s interests, as we forged it only for parliamentary elections.”
Jamaat is ready to extend its full support to candidates nominated by the alliance for the 11th parliamentary polls slated for December this year, he added.
However, asked about the Jamaat’s move to choose its own candidates, several alliance members said the party’s decision was nothing but a political trick.
Meanwhile, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has been tasked with coordinating the alliance and choosing its men of choice for the city elections.
The High Court in a 2013 verdict cancelled the registration of Jamaat over its anti-liberation role in 1971. Some of its top leaders were already executed on charges of their crimes against humanity, while many other are currently facing trials.
On October 9, 2017, conducting a raid on a Uttara house in Dhaka, police arrested nine of its leaders, including Ameer Maqbul Ahmad, Nayeb-e-Ameer Mia Ghulam Parwar, Secretary General Dr Shafiqur Rahman and Chittagong Metropolitan Ameer Mawlana Shahjahan, on charges of “plotting to create political anarchy.”
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune.