Thirty-seven BNP candidates yesterday won appeals at the Election Commission, helping the party recover partially from the damage done by rejection of the nomination papers of its 141 parliamentary aspirants.
Their win also ensured the party's candidature in four of the six constituencies where returning officers (ROs) rejected all nomination papers of BNP leaders during scrutiny.
Hearing of the aspirants' appeals in the remaining two seats will be held today and tomorrow.
Yesterday's successful appellants include BNP senior leaders barrister Aminul Huq and Maj (retd) Akhtaruzzaman, who are now allowed to contest the polls from Rajshahi-1 and Kishoreganj-2.
But the rejection of appeals of several BNP leaders, including former ministers Mir Nasir Uddin, Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku, and Ruhul Quddus Talukder Dulu, has raised concern in the BNP camp.
The ROs concerned rejected their nomination papers on the grounds of their conviction in graft cases. The EC upheld the ROs' decision.
If this principle is applied in disposing BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's appeals with the EC, her participation in the December 30 polls will remain uncertain.
She filed nomination papers to contest from Bogura-6, 7 and Feni-1. The ROs concerned rejected all three nomination papers.
Khaleda filed appeals with the EC, challenging the ROs' decision. Her appeals are likely to be heard tomorrow, the last day of hearing.
If the EC rejects her appeals, the party high command may move to the High Court and challenge the commission's decision on the grounds that Khaleda's conviction has yet to reach finality.
The BNP chief landed in jail on February 8 after being convicted and sentenced to five years' imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case. On October 30, she lost an appeal at the HC that enhanced her jail term to 10 years.
On October 29, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison in another case -- Zia Charitable Trust corruption case.
Talking to The Daily Star, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said, "We hope that our party chief's appeals will be accepted if the Election Commission works neutrally."
Aggrieved appellants will be able to appeal to the HC with certified EC orders.
As many as 3,065 nomination papers were submitted, and the ROs rejected 786 of those during scrutiny on December 2.
As a party, the BNP saw rejection of the highest number of nomination papers -- 141. The number was only three for the Awami League and 38 for the Jatiya Party. Besides, nomination papers of 384 independent aspirants were rejected.
Conviction in cases, defaulting on loans, and non-payment of utility bills were among the reasons for rejection.
A total of 543 appeals were filed against ROs' rejection of nomination papers.
Hearing of 160 appeals was held at the EC secretariat yesterday. Of those, 80 were accepted and 76 rejected. Decision on four others is pending.
Of the 80 successful appellants, 37 are BNP leaders and 43 are leaders of the JP and several other parties, and independent aspirants.
The BNP saw 21 appeals of its leaders rejected by the EC. Besides, the commission turned down 55 appeals from other parties and independent aspirants.
The remaining 383 appeals will be heard today and tomorrow.
Within half an hour of yesterday's appeal hearing, the BNP got good news that some of its candidates won appeals.
At that time, the party got back candidates for four constituencies -- Bogura-7, Jamalpur-4, Dhaka-1 and Manikganj-2 -- where nominations of all BNP aspirants were rejected by the ROs concerned.
Of the four contenders, nomination papers of three -- all upazila chairmen -- were rejected during scrutiny on the grounds that their resignation from the posts was not accepted by the local government ministry.
In Manikganj-2, the nomination papers of the BNP candidates were rejected because of mismatch of signatures of the party's secretary general in the nomination letters.
Hearing of the appeals of the BNP candidates in the other two constituencies --Rangpur-5 and Shariatpur-1 -- remains pending.
During the hearing of the appeal of convicted BNP leader Mir Nasir around noon, his lawyer argued that an appeal against his conviction is pending, and that he is eligible to contest the polls.
The CEC and other commission members then took a lunch break, keeping their decision pending. After the break, they rejected the appeal.
Later, Mir Nasir said he would challenge the EC decision at the HC.
"They [the CEC and other commission members] are all puppets of the government," he said before leaving the EC.
During the argument on the appeal by BNP leader Dulu, who was also convicted in a graft case, his lawyer mentioned that the nomination papers of AL leader Haji Selim and BNP leader Naser Rahman were accepted though they were convicted in corruption cases.
The EC took no time to reject the appeal.
Later, Dulu told reporters that he would move to the HC.
"The Election Commission is rejecting appeals of those BNP leaders, who will emerge victorious in the upcoming election," he said.
11TH JS ELECTION SCHEDULE
The 11th general election will be held on December 30.
As per the polls schedule, the deadline for filing the nomination papers was November 28.
The authorities have fixed December 2 for scrutiny and December 9 the last date for nomination withdrawal.
|Ruhul Kuddus Talukder Dulu||Denied||Conviction in criminal case.|
|Accepted||Rejection due to hiding case filed against him.|
|Mostafa Kamal Pasha||Accepted||Rejection due to telephone bill default.|
Khaleda Zia's advisor. Rejection due to incomplete form.
|Iqbal Hassan Mahmud||Denied||Sentencing in a case.|