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Dhaka Tribune

BCC polls 2013: Nonpartisan local government polls turn political

Update : 29 May 2013, 08:31 AM

Despite the fact local government elections are meant to be nonpartisan, candidates are using their political affiliation to try to bag popular support and win.

The three mayoral candidates for Barisal City Corporation (BCC) elections are all directly involved with politics and none of them resigned from their party posts in order to contest in the polls.

The candidates for general councillor and those contesting the reserved seats for women are also directly or indirectly connected to, and supported by political parties in their bid for the “non-political” local government elections in Barisal city.

The district BNP president Ahsan Habib Kamal, who is also the former city BNP president, is a municipality chairman and the first BCC mayor in-charge, now the 18-party alliances’ chosen candidate.

Shawkat Hossain Hiron who is the outgoing mayor, is the city AL president and the candidate backed by the 14-party alliance. While Mahmudul Haque Khan Mamun is the district joint convener of Jubo League.

The ruling Awami League-led 14-party alliance during a conference on May 10 for party leaders and workers declared Shawkat Hossain Hiron as the official nominee for mayor, contesting under the banner of Sammilito Nagorik Committee for the upcoming BCC polls.

Meanwhile, the main opposition BNP-led 18-party alliance on May 20 announced Ahsan Habib Kamal is their mayoral candidate for the BCC polls, contesting under the banner of Jatiyatabadi Nagorik Parishad.

Lawmaker, city president and central BNP organising secretary Mujibur Rahman Sarwar said although local government elections are not based on political party affiliations, they become political.

The main political parties decide to support respective mayoral candidates under the party banners.

113 out of 163 candidates contesting for the post of mayor, 30 general ward councillors and 10 women contesting for reserved seats are politically involved and known to have active support from their parties.

Out of 113 candidates, 56 are AL members, 52 BNP, 2 JP, 2 Jamaat-e- Islami and 1 CPB, said local election observers.

Mujibur Rahman, returning officer for the third BCC election said the Election Commission (EC) wouldn’t interfere in the issue of political identities until the list of candidates and their symbols are finalised.

“After the campaign formally starts on May 27, we will monitor cautiously to see whether the candidates are using their political identities, party office, funds and other political benefits in the election,” he said.

Enayet Hossain Chowdhury, Barisal district secretary of Fair Election Monitoring Alliance said it is farcical that political parties openly announce they have chosen candidates for the city corporation election and involve leaders and activists to campaign in favour of the nominated candidates.

He said the EC cautions against contestants using their political identities.

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