Thursday, June 20, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

The pains and gains of overcrowding of candidates

While political competition is encouraging, the oversaturated pool of candidates is bound to be a headache

Update : 28 Nov 2023, 10:07 AM

Citizens are gearing up as the big day, January 7, 2024 -- Bangladesh's national election -- approaches. After months of uncertainty and anxiety, the announcement of the election schedule brought a palpable sense of relief to the people of Bangladesh. However, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has vehemently opposed the election schedule, expressing unwavering dedication to resist the electoral process at any cost. 

Since October 29, the BNP has been actively engaged in political activities such as hartals and blockades, intermittently pausing on Tuesdays and weekly holidays. Despite their calls for hartals and blockades, the opposition has struggled to disrupt citizens' transportation and daily movement, as they have not garnered sufficient support from the public. While arson attacks on vehicles have occurred with reduced frequency, they have still left a negative impression on the people and shaped their perceptions about the ongoing political programs.

Several allies associated with the BNP have conveyed their intention to partake in the forthcoming election. Initially, the Jatiya Party displayed some hesitancy following the announcement of the election schedule, but they eventually resolved to participate in the electoral process. Several other political parties have also decided to join the upcoming election. 

As these alliances take shape and the participating parties prepare for the upcoming election, the dynamics of the political arena are undergoing a transformative process. The involvement of these parties is gradually eroding the BNP's stance advocating for the resignation of the current government and the establishment of a caretaker government to supervise the election process. Consequently, the party finds itself confronted with formidable challenges in the imminent future. 

Unfiltered nominations

All participating political parties have commenced their election-related activities. Like its counterparts, the Bangladesh Awami League (AL) has not withheld in carrying out these initiatives. Notably, the party's nomination process captured attention with over 3000 leaders collecting nomination forms for the election. 

The average of more than 11 candidates vying for a single seat is significant. While the party plans to nominate 300 candidates deemed as potential winners, concerns loom over potential internal rifts among those not selected. Managing the expectations and grievances of the non-nominated candidates poses a challenge, and the sheer number of candidates may present difficulties for the party during the election.

Concerns arise regarding the sharing of constituencies among the various partners within the grand political alliances. In this scenario, there is a fear that numerous candidates may choose to run as independents, particularly in constituencies shared by the party with its alliance partner. If the BNP opts not to contest the election, the potential negative impact on the party's election results may be mitigated. However, if the BNP does decide to participate in the election, the repercussions of such a scenario could be more substantial.

Another potential challenge involves the nomination of numerous bureaucrats across various constituencies. Grassroots leaders within the party may perceive such decisions as irksome, feeling a sense of alienation as they are the foundational politicians dealing with challenges at the local level. Furthermore, an extended tenure in power has given rise to a faction of infiltrators attempting to sow divisions within the party -- a situation prevalent nationwide. Striking a balance becomes imperative in effectively managing these dynamics.

A crucial question arises: Why are such a high number of candidates eager to participate in the parliamentary election from the AL? The prevailing belief among most political leaders is that securing a nomination could guarantee them a seat in the Parliament, given the BNP's decision not to contest the election. Fueled by this perspective, even those lacking the possibility of winning a nomination have submitted nomination forms. 

Within this pool of candidates, a subset aims to capture the attention of central leadership by withdrawing their nominations, with an expectation that such a gesture might yield benefits from the party once in power. The AL central leadership faces the challenge of navigating a diverse array of intentions among these leaders, and satisfying all these aspirations is a daunting endeavour.

It's heartening to witness political competition for nominations among leaders, a healthy aspect of political dynamics. Unfortunately, the current state of Bangladeshi politics paints a sombre picture, marked by low tolerance levels among political leaders. A primary factor contributing to this situation is the prevalent prioritization of personal gains over the interests of the party by a significant portion of party members. These issues merit heightened consideration from the AL central leadership.

The AL president is anticipated to accord greater significance to these concerns and take proactive measures in selecting the most popular and deserving candidates for the election. Simultaneously, leaders who are not granted nominations should receive satisfactory explanations, enabling them to contribute effectively to the campaigns of the selected candidates during the election.

Dr Pranab Kumar Panday is a Professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi. 

Top Brokers


Popular Links