The ruling Awami League still trails its archrival BNP by 14 vice-chairmen posts in the overall results of the four phases of upazila polls.
In the first two phases of the election, the BNP-backed candidates took a clear lead over the AL favourites. But they closed the gap on the BNP-backed aspirants in the next two phases by resorting to violence and rigging.
Until Sunday, BNP favourites won 268 vice-chairman posts, while the nominees blessed by the AL secured 254 posts out of the total 758, including those reserved for women. The result of vice-chairman post in Barura upazila of Comilla has been withheld.
However, the AL-backed candidates on Sunday won 69 vice-chairmen posts, 22 more than their rivals supported by the BNP.
In the latest polls, BNP contenders in the reserved vice-chairmen posts fared well than their male counterparts. The opposition party favourites bagged 33 vice-chairmen posts reserved for women and 14 general vice-chairman posts.
The AL-blessed chairmen aspirants closed the gap on their rival BNP favourites in the third phase of upazila parishad polls (March 15) which were marked by violence and irregularities.
Finally on Sunday, the ruling party-backed nominees took the lead over the contenders supported by the BNP as the polls in the fourth phase saw widespread violence and rigging by ruling party men.
Asked about the results of the vice-chairmen posts, Ahmad Hossain, an organising secretary of the AL, said their main focus was on the chairmen posts.
“In many cases, the party did not back any candidate for vice-chairmanship. However, we are now monitoring it and will try our best to do well in the next phase of the polls,” he mentioned.
Interestingly, BNP standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan echoed the views of the AL leader.
The BNP-backed candidates were supposed to do well in all the posts. But the AL men targeted the chairmen posts and grabbed those by rigging, Nazrul told The Daily Star. “We fear that the ruling party men will now target the vice-chairmen posts also in the next phase of the polls,” he added.
In the fifth phase, some 74 upazilas will go to polls on March 31.
In the upazila polls held five years ago, the situation was different. The AL at that time did not need to resort to violence to win majority posts of chairman and vice-chairman in the 91 upazilas, which went to polls on Sunday.
On January 22, 2009, the AL-backed candidates won 57 out of 88 chairman posts and bagged 106 out of 166 vice-chairman posts, including those reserved for women. The BNP-blessed nominees won 18 chairmen posts and 42 vice-chairmen.
In 2009, the upazila polls were held three weeks after the December 29 parliamentary polls, in which the AL won a landslide victory.
This time around, the upazila elections are being held one and a half months after the controversial parliamentary polls on January 5.