BNP likely to stay in race
The BNP is most likely to stay in the Union Parishad polls, as senior party leaders are against quitting the race.
The leaders expressed their opinion at a meeting chaired by party Chairperson Khaleda Zia at her Gulshan office last night.
However, the BNP will announce its final decision after holding a meeting of the 20-party alliance today, meeting sources said.
“Though the party realise that there is no environment for free and fair polls in the country, senior leaders of the party advised Khaleda Zia not to quit the election at this stage,” an organising secretary told The Daily Star.
Some leaders spoke in favour of boycotting the polls, but most leaders spoke in favour of staying in the race.
Another BNP leader said they told Khaleda that the party would benefit from staying in the race as people would get a message that the BNP tried its best to restore democracy in the country.
The three-hour closed-door meeting started around 9:00pm where senior leaders from Standing Committee to organising secretaries attended. No one was allowed to take their cell phones in the meeting.
The BNP chief already spoke with the party's grassroots who told her that “it is better to quit the polls” as the ruling Awami League men were “capturing” most polling centres, stuffing ballots in front of law enforcers, insiders said.
The meeting discussed this, but senior leaders requested Khaleda to take more time to decide, according to the sources.
“We gave her [Khaleda] the responsibility to make a decision on staying or quitting,” said a vice-chairman of the party.
The BNP on March 31 submitted a letter to Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmed, saying that they would have no alternative but to boycott the polls to the rest of the UPs if the EC did not cancel elections to 1,354 UPs that went to the polls on March 22 and March 31.
The BNP demanded fresh elections there.
At least 31 people were killed and several hundred others injured in the two phases of the elections.
The BNP-nominated candidates won around 109 chairman posts in the two phases against 991 secured by AL men.
The party has been alleging that the two phases were marred by widespread vote rigging, capturing of polling stations, and violence and use of muscle power by the ruling party men.
The party also alleged that despite repeated complaints filed with the EC over various polls irregularities and violation of the election codes of conduct, the EC did nothing to prevent those.
Earlier yesterday, BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Rizvi Ahmed demanded that the EC cancel the first and second phase elections to those UPs that were “marred by widespread violence, vote rigging and irregularities”.
“People have boycotted all the elections under the current subservient Election Commission,” Rizvi said.
He also renewed his party's demand for resignation of the election commissioners.
However, on Saturday AL Joint General Secretary Mahbub-Ul-Alam Hanif said the BNP was thinking about boycotting the remaining UP polls to avert humiliation.
“The BNP has failed to reach out to people and get their verdict in the first two phases of the UP polls. They are now planning to quit the race to avert miserable and humiliating defeat,” Hanif told reporters after a meeting of the party at its president's Dhanmondi office.