BNP may pick 'tested' leaders
The BNP is likely to give the party ticket to the two current mayors of the Gazipur and Khulna city corporations for contesting the upcoming polls, considering their proven loyalty to the party.
The party, however, is also keeping other options open.
Gazipur city Mayor MA Mannan will get the party blessings if he remains physically fit, while Khulna city Mayor Moniruzzaman Moni is at the top of the list of three prospective party candidates, said BNP insiders.
Both the mayors were suspended by the government after they got elected around five years back, and this helped them gain public sympathy, they mentioned.
Mannan defeated Awami League-backed candidate Ajmat Ullah Khan by around 1.5 lakh votes in Gazipur city polls on July 6, 2013, while Moniruzzaman beat AL leader Talukder Abdul Khaleque by over 60,000 votes in Khulna city election in June 2013.
Election to the two city corporations are scheduled for May 15, and the deadline for submitting nomination papers is April 12.
Election officials will scrutinise the documents on April 15-16, and the candidates will be able to withdraw their candidacy till April 23, according to the election schedule.
“The current mayors are likely to get the party ticket as they tried their best to work for people despite government repression,” said a senior BNP leader, seeking anonymity.
Ten mayoral aspirants for the two city polls submitted nomination forms to the party's Nayapaltan office. The deadline for submitting nomination papers expired yesterday.
The party's nomination board will interview the aspirants tomorrow evening at the party chairperson's Gulshan office, and draw up a shortlist.
The BNP has taken part in all the local government polls held during the tenures of the AL-led government since 2008.
The party is willing to contest the upcoming city polls as well to prove its popularity. But it is concerned whether the Election Commission will play a neutral role in holding the polls, said party insiders.
After getting elected, Mannan could work as Gazipur mayor only for a couple of years. He was suspended twice and also accused in more than 30 cases.
“I am physically and mentally prepared for contesting the polls. If the party gives me nomination, I will contest it,” said 70-year-old Mannan, who has been suffering from various diseases for the last couple of years.
Party insiders said Mannan is not physically fit. But if he wishes to contest the election, he will be given party nomination because he sacrificed a lot for the party.
“Mannan wants the party to extend its support to him or his son Monjurul Karim,” said a BNP leader close to Mannan.
Another BNP leader, Hasan Uddin Sarkar, is also hopeful of getting the party ticket.
“I have collected nomination form. It is up to the party to decide who gets the nomination ... I will accept whatever decision the party makes,” said Hasan, a member of the BNP Executive Committee.
He also said that if the party picks Mannan, he will surely work for him.
Khulna Mayor Moniruzzaman, who collected nomination form from the Election Commission office on Tuesday, is hopeful of getting the BNP ticket.
Khulna city unit BNP has already extended its support to him.
“I have worked for my city even in the face of government repression. People have sympathy for me. I think I can fulfil their expectations in the coming days,” he said.
Moniruzzaman, who is now facing three cases, was suspended from the mayoral post for more than a year. He also spent a month in jail.
However, a good number of local BNP leaders want that the party chooses district unit President Shafiqul Alam Mona as the mayoral candidate.
Besides, a section of party high-ups is backing Khulna Division Organising Secretary Nazrul Islam Monju, who has collected the party's nomination form, say party sources.
Monju, however, denied collecting nomination form.
“I will not contest the election. But if the party asks me to run for mayor, I will do so,” he told this newspaper.