In a surprise move, the BNP may leave most of the parliamentary seats in the capital to top leaders of its allies for contesting the upcoming election.
It has finalised nominating party candidates in four of the 15 constituencies in the city, and kept the rest open to high-profile leaders of the Jatiya Oikyafront and components of the BNP-led 20-party alliance, said party sources.
The BNP starts handing over nomination letters to party candidates today.
In the past, the party never gave any seat in the capital to its alliance partners. But this time, it wants to give “a surprise” in nominating contestants in the city's constituencies, mentioned the sources.
Though the party has strong candidates for all the 15 seats, it is leaving most of those for top alliance leaders to make its allies happy, they said.
The BNP may leave Dhaka-18 for Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Rab) leader Tania Rab, and Dhaka-6 and 7 to Gono Forum leaders Subrata Chowdhury and Mostafa Mohsin Montu, according to the sources.
“The party is considering leaving most of the seats for Oikyafront leaders as most of them are well-known in the city area,” a vice chairman of the BNP told this newspaper yesterday, seeking anonymity.
BNP Standing Committee Member Mirza Abbas and his wife Afroza Abbas would contest from Dhaka-8 and 9 constituencies, the party leader said.
From Dhaka-14, former lawmaker SA Khaleque's son SA Saju would get the party ticket and BNP leader Abdus Salam from Dhaka-13, according to BNP insiders.
The names of the candidates from Dhaka-5, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 19 and 20 constituencies would be finalised following consultations with the Oikyafront leaders, they added.
Several leaders of the BNP and its partners said they agreed in principle that the aspirants, who have the best chance of winning the election, should be given nomination regardless of their party affiliation.
The BNP is likely to give seven to 10 seats to the Gono Forum, two to three seats to the Nagorik Oikya, and three each to the JSD (Rab) and the Krishak Sramik Janata League.
The components of the 20-party alliance sought 40 seats but the BNP agreed to give them a maximum of 20 seats.
Leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami, a key ally of the BNP, wished that the BNP would keep open some specific seats to its leaders.
The seats include Thakurgaon-2, Dinajpur-1 and 6, Nilphamari-3, Lalmonirhat-1, Rangpur-5, Kurigram-4, Gaibandha-1 and 4, Bogura-4, Sirajganj-4, Pabna-1 and 5, Jashore-2, Bagerhat-3 and 4, Khulna-5 and 6, Satkhira-2, 3 and 4, Pirojpur-2, Sylhet-5 and 6, Cumilla-11, Chattogram-15 and Cox's Bazar-2.
Another alliance partner, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), wanted the BNP to leave six seats for it. But the BNP agreed to leave four seats to LDP President Oli Ahmed in Chattogram-14, its General Secretary Redwan Ahmed in Cumilla-7, Joint Secretary General Shahadat Hossain Selim from Laxmipur- 1, and LDP leader Abdul Karim Abbasi from Netrakona-2.
The BNP is likely to leave Bhola-1 seat to Bangladesh Jatiya Party Chairman Andaleeve Rahman Partha, Chattogram-5 to Kalyan Party Chairman Syed Mohammad Ibrahim from, Panchagarh-2 to Jatiya Ganatantrik Party leader Tasmia Pradhan, Nilphamari-1 to Bangladesh NAP (partial) leader Rita Rahman, Jashore-4 to Bangladesh Minority Janata Party leader Sukriti Kumar, and Jashore-5 and Sunamganj-3 to Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam leaders Mufti Md Wakkas and Shahinur Pasha Chowdhury.
The other alliance leaders, who would contest the polls, include Khelafat Majlish leader Ahmed Abdul Kader from Habiganj-4, National People's Party (NPP) leader Farhaduzzaman Farhad from Narail-2, Jatiya Party (Jafar) leader TI Fazle Rabbi from Gaibandha-3 and Mostafa Jamal Haider from Pirojpur-1.
SELECTION OF BNP CANDIDATES
The BNP completed interviewing the nomination seekers on Wednesday, and its nomination board later held a series of meetings to finalise the nominations.
The party leaders also sat with the alliance partners to reach an agreement over seat-sharing.
Several BNP leaders said a huge number of grassroots leaders hope to get nomination as the party is going to contest the national polls for the first time in 10 years.
The candidates have been chosen based on four surveys conducted by the party's acting chairman Tarique Rahman and interviews given by the aspirants, said party insiders.
The party's top leaders are happy with the process of candidate selection as all the decisions were made collectively, they added.
The BNP decided to issue nomination letters to two candidates each from most of the constituencies in case the main contestant's nomination papers are rejected by the returning officer.
It has already taken undertakings from the aspirants that if they do not get nomination, they would not contest the polls independently.
The party's nomination board finalised the candidates for around 250 seats, leaving the rest for its partners in the Oikyafront and the 20-party combine. If the alliance leaders press for more seats, the party may give them another 10, the sources said.
The nomination letters, signed by BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, would be issued to the candidates from party chief Khaleda Zia's Gulshan office, sources said.
“We will start issuing nomination letters to the candidates tomorrow [today],” BNP Standing Committee Member Moudud Ahmed, also a member of the party's nomination board, told this correspondent yesterday.
“Many educated and young people showed interest in contesting the election on the BNP ticket. During the nomination process, we considered this. There will be a number of new faces in this election,” he said.
Party insiders said around 50 new faces, mostly young, would get nomination for the upcoming polls.