BNP has nominated candidates with ties to serious crimes, and for that it should be called out
The dust has now settled on the nomination process for the upcoming 11th parliamentary elections in Bangladesh, with both alliances having finalized their picks and ready to start their official campaigns. Here are some important points which stand clarified from BNP’s nomination process and their list of nominees.
First, it would seem that Tarique Rahman is still calling the shots. Despite Kamal Hossain being the face of the public operations of Oikya Front-BNP, it is clear that it is indeed Tarique Rahman who is making the actual decisions from London.
Tarique, who is a fugitive from law having been convicted of several criminal offenses including corruption and murder, took interviews of the BNP aspirants via Skype to the visible discontent of many of his own party leaders.
The fact that Tarique, who was the symbol of corruption and nepotism during BNP’s 2001-2006 tenure, is the principal in the Oikya Front-BNP enterprise also poses an inconvenient situation for people like Kamal, who have made anti-corruption and good governance their principal undertakings to the nation.
Second, Jamaat-e-Islam remains an integral part of Oikya Front-BNP. The party which opposed Bangladesh’s independence and willingly participated in the genocidal campaign during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, received 22 nominations from BNP to contest with its symbol “sheaf of paddy.”
Despite Kamal Hossain promising to the nation in September this year that there will be no alliance with BNP unless the latter parts way with Jamaat, now Kamal’s own nominees from the Gano Forum party are using the same “sheaf of paddy” symbol as Jamaat to contest in the upcoming election.
Third, BNP has not given any indication that it is willing to rectify its position vis-à-vis sponsoring and commissioning terrorist outfits like JMB. It has nominated such patrons of the banned group from the Rajshahi region as Barrister Aminul Haque, Alamgir Kabir, Nadim Mostofa, and Ruhul Kuddus Talukder.
BNP has also nominated Shakila Farzana, who was arrested by police in 2015 on the charge of sending money to a bank account of Hamza Brigade, a militant outfit. A case in this connection is still ongoing. Many are questioning whether this signals a return to the era of state-sponsored terrorist groups which we were unfortunate to witness during BNP’s last tenure in government.
Fourth, the fate of the war crimes trials hangs on a precarious balance. BNP has always been unapologetic about its support for the war criminals of 1971 and its opposition to the war crimes trials.
The party, which made top war criminals like Mujaheed and Nizami ministers in their last 2001-2006 cabinet, has this time around given nominations to the children of convicted and sentenced war criminals like Delwar Hossain Sayeedi and Abdul Alim and the sibling of Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury.
There are also eight BNP nominees against whom there are credible allegations of war crimes and who are being investigated and some have already been charged by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT-BD). This indicates how apathetic the party is to the sentiments of the victims of the 1971 Bangladesh genocide and their families.
Fifth, BNP continues to own the grievous crimes of its leaders. It has given nominations to spouses and children of leaders who have been convicted of serious crimes. For instance, Tahmina Zaman from Netrokona-4, the wife of Lutfozzaman Babor, sentenced to death for his role in the August 21, 2004 grenade attack.
Lastly, the nominations have also split wide open the notion that BNP as a party is united in its efforts. The chaos and unrest in BNP’s party offices in Paltan and Gulshan for the last few days stand testament to the fact that, as a party, BNP is disorganized and rife with disillusionment about its leadership.
Any registered political party in Bangladesh is fully within its rights to nominate whoever it pleases, provided they comply fully with the prevalent electoral laws of the land.
But as long as they choose to nominate candidates with ties to terrorism, war crimes, corruption, and serious crimes such as the 21st grenade attack, they should be ready to be called out vocally by the people.
The fact that someone like Kamal Hossain acts as their spokesperson does not make it any less reprehensible. In fact, it makes it even worse.
Shah Ali Farhad is a lawyer, researcher, and political activist. He is a Senior Analyst at the Centre for Research and Information (CRI).