AL 'plans to field dummy candidates'
Keeping in mind the last parliamentary election that saw 154 candidates elected uncontested, the ruling Awami League now considers fielding dummy contenders alongside the party nominees in all the 300 constituencies.
If the BNP and other political parties boycott the upcoming national election at the last moment, the dummy candidates will run against those formally nominated by the AL, insiders say.
The BNP and some other opposition parties are yet to make it clear whether they would participate in the election, and the ruling party doesn't want its elected lawmakers to be labelled as uncontested like in the 2014 polls.
Apart from this, if the dummy candidates contest the election, it would ensure the presence of more polling agents of the party at the election centres, they added.
The fresh strategy was discussed at the joint meeting of the AL Central Working Committee, Advisory Council and the Parliamentary Party at the Gono Bhaban on Friday with party chief Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
Meeting sources said Hasina, raising the issue, asked her party colleagues to prepare a list of dummy candidates besides the potential nominees.
Two central AL leaders, present at the meeting, confirmed this to The Daily Star, declining to make any comment.
But they quoted Hasina as saying that the AL should have a dummy candidate in each of the constituencies so that a contested election is held even if any major party boycotts it at the eleventh hour.
The other reason behind fielding dummy candidates is to ensure presence of more polling agents to make the election look vibrant, they added.
Hasina, also the prime minister, said at the meeting that the party will have to face criticism if any candidate is elected uncontested like in 2014, according to the two leaders.
She noted that the 10th parliamentary polls held on January 5, 2014, was severely criticised inside and outside the party, they said.
A total of 12 parties had contested the 10th parliamentary polls.
They are AL, JP, Workers Party, JSD, JP (Manju), BNF, Tarikat Federation, Bangladesh Islami Front, Gonofront, Gonotantri Party, Khelafat Majlish and National Awami Party (NAP).
On the other hand, the BNP, its key ally Jamaat-Islami and some left leaning parties, among others, boycotted the election demanding polls under a non-partisan interim administration.
Of the 154 elected uncontested, 127 were from the ruling AL.
On October 13 this year, a new alliance called Jatiya Oikyafront was launched, comprising the BNP, Gonoforum, Nagorik Oikya and JSD (Rab).
It unveiled a seven-point demand including election under a neutral government after dissolution of parliament and release of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia from jail.
The alliance has already held rallies to drum up public support in favour of the demands but is yet to formally announce whether it will contest the polls.
Besides, Left Democratic Alliance forged by eight left political parties including the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) also demanded election under a neutral administration.
The left alliance also has not said whether it would participate in the polls.