The party boycotted the 2014 general election and will lose its registration with the Election Commission if it sits out the next one. This would prevent the BNP from contesting future elections
The BNP has said that it will not participate in the national election unless its Chairperson Khaleda Zia is released from jail. But some BNP insiders say the party’s election plan is still uncertain.
The party boycotted the 2014 general election and will lose its registration with the Election Commission if it sits out the next one. This would prevent the BNP from contesting future elections.
Since Khaleda’s jailing in February, her party’s demand for her release has grown stronger—as the national election approaches.
Senior BNP leaders say contesting polls is part of political activity, hinting that they might participate in the election in Khaleda’s absence.
BNP leaders say the Awami League government sent Khaleda to jail in a politically-motivated case to prevent her from leading her party during the polls.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, and several standing committee members, said the BNP-led 20-party alliance will boycott national polls if Khaleda is not released.
Several senior BNP leaders told the Dhaka Tribune that their key demand is Khaleda’s release. They said they would make a final decision on contesting the election after that.
Fakhrul told the Dhaka Tribune that the current government wants to keep Khaleda in jail for some time.
“We are still the main opposition although we are not in parliament. We are struggling for the restoration of democracy,” he said. “Khaleda Zia is our leader. She will be leading the democratic movement no matter where she is.”
When asked whether they will take part in the election, he said: “We will make our decision based on the poll’s atmosphere and the voters’ confidence during the election.”
BNP Standing Committee member Nazrul Islam Khan said Khaleda’s release was a pre-requisite to restore democracy.
“Without democracy, the participation of all parties in the 11th parliamentary election cannot be guaranteed. The BNP, its allies, and the people will boycott the election,” he said.
BNP Standing Committee member Gayeshwar Chandra Roy said they want to compete in a fair election.
“An election is not a war. It is our choice that we will participate in an election adhering to correct processes. And for this, we want our leader’s release. We will take part in the election with her,” he added.
When asked if they will boycott the election if Khaleda is not released, he said that was a different issue.
“Since we are a political party, we will continue our activities. Besides, as a major party, the BNP would like to contest such political events with our leader,” he added.
Gayeshwar said they will continue their movement for Khaleda’s release and the instatement of poll-time, neutral, government.
When asked what they will do if their registration is cancelled for boycotting the polls, he said the boat and sheaf of paddy – symbols of Awami League and BNP respectively – have become national symbols—as these parties have been in power since the restoration of democracy in Bangladesh.
“We will not participate in an unfair election even if we are threatened with having our registration cancelled,” he added.