Dhaka City Polls: Despite rout, BNP sees a silver lining | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 05, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:13 AM, February 05, 2020

Dhaka City Polls: Despite rout, BNP sees a silver lining

The BNP says it has found two future leaders in Tabith Awal and Ishraque Hossain despite their heavy defeats in Saturday’s Dhaka city polls.

The opposition party claimed that by joining the polls it was able to reveal the government’s intention of ensuring victory for the Awami League mayor candidates.

BNP leaders said the February 1 polls once again proved that a free and fair election was not possible under the incumbent government.

They said the Electronic Voting Machine, used by the Election Commission in the polls, was proved to be a “faulty tool”.

According to political analysts, this election, however, has exposed the poor performance and organisational strength of the BNP’s Dhaka city unit. An overhaul of the city unit is a must for boosting the morale of the party men.

Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said, “This election has proved that people have no confidence in the electoral system and elections as the voter turnout was poor. It’s so alarming that even many Awami League supporters didn’t go to polling centres.”

He said the city polls have once again proved that there was no alternative to a non-partisan and neutral EC for holding a free, fair, and credible election.

Party sources said foreign diplomats in Dhaka also had an idea about the roles of the government and the EC in the city polls. The BNP was collecting documents on election irregularities to place those before the diplomats.

The BNP leaders and activists had been on the streets during the polls campaign, but their presence in and around the polling centres was thin on the election day. Even there was no polling agents of the two BNP mayor candidates in many voting centres.

The BNP’s Dhaka north and south mayor candidates, Tabith Awal and Ishraque Hossain, lost to their AL rivals Atiqul Islam and Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh.

Echoing the views of Moudud, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said a fair election was not possible even by using EVMs.

“We have been raising our voice against the use of EVM in elections for a long time. The latest city polls proved that manipulation of polls results is possible using the EVM,” he said.

BNP leaders said the party didn’t boycott the February 1 polls halfway through the polling day like they did in the previous city polls in 2015 because they didn’t want to take the blame for boycotting the elections.

The party faced huge criticism from within and outside the organisation for boycotting the January 5, 2014 city polls.

Several BNP leaders said its Dhaka city leaders failed to organise any major protest programme in the capital in the last 10 years. Many top city BNP leaders even didn’t go to polling centres on Saturday to cast their votes.

Asked about the issue, Fakhrul said, “Many leaders and activists of the Dhaka city BNP faced massive repression in the last decade. The highest number of BNP men disappeared from the capital during the same period. But we could reach out to our voters during campaigning for the February 1 city polls.”

He, however, said they evaluate the polls results and the party’s performance after every election. He said they would certainly identify the party’s weaknesses and fix those in future.Meanwhile, the BNP standing committee is scheduled to meet today to discuss the city election results and devise its next course of action.

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