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Dhaka Tribune

Ruling alliance moves to Plan B

Update : 28 Mar 2015, 07:01 PM

BNP’s announcement of joining the April city polls has let the ruling Awami League alliance to shift to Plan B, which is primarily to ensure there is just one candidate for all posts including that of mayors.

In most of the city posts – mayor, ward councillor and female councillor – more than one Awami League leader have expressed their intention to contest. Most have already collected nomination papers as well.

The initial plan was to let all those candidates contest the polls if BNP had not come in. But now that the scenario has changed, Awami League is bent on ensuring that the ruling alliance votes do not get split, party insiders said.

Moreover, the party needs to get on the same page with all its partners of the 14-party alliance. Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD), led by Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu has already floated its own mayoral candidate for Dhaka south.

Sources also said if the party cannot ensure that all its allies are lined up to back common candidates, the polls would only go in favour of the BNP-backed candidates.

When contacted, Awami League presidium member Mohammad Nasim, also spokesperson for the 14-party alliance, told the Dhaka Tribune: “Prime Minister and alliance leader Sheikh Hasina has already finalised three mayoral candidates for Dhaka north, Dhaka south and Chittagong. The alliance will also support the candidates endorsed by the prime minister.”

He said: “We will finalise the councillor candidates through discussions with our alliance partners.”

According to sources, the 14-party alliance will hold a meeting on March 31 to sort things out among the partners. The meeting is supposed to be held at Hasina’s political office in Dhanmondi.

Today is the last date for submitting nomination papers that the aspirants have collected over the last few weeks. All aspirants affiliated with the Awami League can file nomination papers with the Election Commission, but they will have to pull out before April 9.

Hasina has already endorsed business tycoon Annisul Huq, former FBCCI and BGMEA president, for mayor of Dhaka north; Sayeed Khokon, son of first elected mayor of undivided Dhaka, late Mohammad Hanif; and AJM Nasir Uddin, general secretary of Awami League’s Chittagong city unit, for Chittagong.

However, several other Awami League leaders, including incumbent lawmakers, have also collected nomination papers.

They include Old Dhaka lawmaker Haji Mohammad Selim for Dhaka south; filmstar and ex-MP Kabari, current MP Kamal Ahmed Majumdar and Ekhlas Uddin Molla for Dhaka north.

Last week, Hasina warned that anyone who goes against party decision will face tough actions.

When contacted, Selim’s personal secretary Sohel Hawladar told the Dhaka Tribune that his boss had gone to India for treatment; he will be back tomorrow. A status on Selim’s Facebook page also states as much.

Veteran Awami League leader Suranjit Sengupta, member of the party’s advisory council, told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday that everything will be fine before the polls.

“The rebels are not a problem. Two candidates will contest the polls in the two city corporations. The rest will pull out. Just wait and see,” said Suranjit who had been present at every high-level meeting for selecting candidates.

The BNP has also finalised businessman Abdul Awal Mintoo for Dhaka north, party standing committee member Mirza Abbas for Dhaka south, and incumbent Chittagong mayor M Manjur Alam, who resigned on Friday to be able to run for Chittagong mayor once again.

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