The upcoming city corporation elections in Gazipur are likely to be hotly contested as rebel candidates are vying for the mayor’s post against rivals supported by the major parties.
At a press conference in Dhaka on Sunday, the Awami League-led 14-party alliance endorsed Azmot Ullah Khan, a former mayor of Tongi Municipality and general secretary of the ruling party’s district unit, to run for mayor in the July 6 polls.
The very next day, in defiance of the party stand, vice chairman of Gazipur sadar upazila parishad Jahangir Alam, who is also a Jubo League leader, announced his candidature at a press conference in Gazipur. He will contest the election from the Sammilito Nagorik Committee.
“Party support is not important in local government elections,” Alam said. “The party’s policymakers did not discuss with local leaders and activists while selecting the (mayoral) candidate,” he added.
Alam is hopeful of getting support from local members of parliament, and grassroots leaders and activists. If elected, he pledged to develop Gazipur as a modern and technology-based city corporation.
Although opposition BNP has not extended support to any candidate yet, some aspirants have been busy putting up campaign posters, banners and billboards, publishing advertisements and informally contacting people in their localities.
On Wednesday, MA Mannan, a former state minister for religious affairs and adviser to BNP chairperson, announced himself as a mayoral candidate at a press conference held at the local party office.
Mannan claimed he had received backing from the BNP-led 18-party alliance.
“After getting the green signal from the party high command, I, myself announced my candidature as mayor,” Mannan said.
“The people of Gazipur don’t have any guardian and are deprived of all kinds of development. I am putting myself forward as a candidate in the election as the leaders and activists at grassroots level support me,” Mannan added.
However, Hasan Uddin Sarker, a former district council chairman, and Afzal Hossain Kaiser, vice-president of district BNP and ex-chairman of Gazipur sadar upazila parishad, also announced themselves as candidates at separate press conferences recently.
Furthermore, Showkat Hossain, chairman of Kashimpur union and cultural secretary of district BNP, also took a nomination paper from the district election office on Monday for contesting the election.
Meanwhile, taking advantage of the rivalry among pro-BNP candidates, Islami Oikyo Jote (IOJ) wants support from the 18-party alliance to field its own candidate in the election.
“As BNP still has not finalised a candidate and an inter-party conflict seems to be prevailing, if the alliance supports us, we wish to take part in the election,” Fazlur Rahman, joint secretary general of IOJ’s central committee, said.
BNP activists, meanwhile, expressed their hopelessness over more than one candidate from the party contesting the election.
According to them, BNP has the potential to win the mayoral election this time. But if more than one candidate runs from the party, then ruling Awami League will reap the benefit, they said.
They also hoped that the party high command would select one candidate soon and advise them all to work for him. As per the election schedule, June 6 is the deadline for submission of nomination papers, while June 9 and 10 have been set for scrutiny. The last date for withdrawal is June 17.