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BNP, Jamaat butt heads over SCC mayoral candidate

  • Published at 12:58 am July 9th, 2018
BNP mayor candidate Ariful Haque Chowdhury speaks at a party program in Sylhet metropolis on Friday <b>Dhaka Tribune</b>
BNP mayor candidate Ariful Haque Chowdhury speaks at a party program in Sylhet metropolis on Friday Dhaka Tribune

Jamaat, who lost their registration with the Election Commission for alleged connections to war crimes in 1971, are going to field their own candidate in the SCC polls, much to the frustration of BNP

The political alliance between BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami has become strained in recent times, with the two parties failing to agree on a mayoral candidate for the Sylhet City Corporation (SCC) polls scheduled for the end of the month.

Jamaat, who lost their registration with the Election Commission for alleged connections to war crimes in 1971, are going to field their own candidate in the SCC polls, much to the frustration of BNP, insiders said.

Jamaat has declared Ameer Ehsanul Mahbub Zubair its mayoral candidate in the SCC polls, while BNP has nominated incumbent mayor Ariful Haque Chowdhury.

Although sources from both parties have said that their relationship suffered as a result of the conflict over the mayoral candidate, leaders of the BNP-led 20-party alliance have rejected the allegations.

In a recent press statement, Jamaat Publicity Secretary Tasnim Alam claimed Jamaat’s decision to field their own candidate in the SCC polls was justified and there was no misunderstanding between members of the 20-party alliance.

However, sources from within the alliance said the issue of fielding separate candidates had been discussed between the members, but no consensus had been reached.

Earlier, Jamaat had supported the BNP candidates in the Gazipur and Khulna city corporation elections, and the party plans to do the same at the upcoming polls in Barisal and Rajshahi.

Jamaat sources said they had supported the BNP candidates expecting quid pro quo, after having withdrawn their candidates in the Dhaka North City Corporation and Gazipur City Corporation elections.

Jamaat leaders said they will contest the SCC mayoral election at any cost, and will not give up for the sake of the alliance. 

Meanwhile, almost all other parties of the 20-party alliance have expressed support for the BNP candidate in the SCC polls.

A number of BNP leaders told the Dhaka Tribune that Jamaat’s decision to field their own candidate would definitely harm the alliance, and that Jamaat would lose out in the next national election if the alliance broke down.

They also said they had suggested Jamaat not contest the SCC polls, as the party would not be able to do so under their own party symbol after having lost their registration with the Election Commission.

BNP Standing Committee member Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury said the conflict between BNP and Jamaat would be swiftly resolved through discussion.

When asked whether they planned to exclude or keep the Islamist party from the alliance, the standing committee member said: “We are with Jamaat as part of a coalition. But that does not mean we have to accept whatever they think.”

He added that BNP and Jamaat only seemed to work together in times of crisis. “When the fire has been put out, the situation between BNP and Jamaat is quite different. Nobody works with anyone.”

BNP Standing Committee Member and 20-party alliance coordinator Nazrul Islam said: “we have asked them to withdraw their nomination [in the SCC polls] and if they do not listen, we will take other measures.” 

The BNP- Jamaat alliance was formed during the tenure of the Awami League led government in 1999, and the alliance was later expanded into the 20-party alliance.