Ruling Awami League and BNP insiders believe they have gained more than their arch rival from the just-concluded Khulna City Corporation elections.
Sources in the AL said Tuesday's victory was a showcase of party unity and a morale boost for party workers who had been feeling down following losses in Rangpur and Comilla city polls.
The AL wants to hold on to this momentum for the Gazipur city polls on June 26 and national elections in seven months.
BNP insiders said the defeat in KCC polls was actually a “political win” for the party as it exposed to people that "this government and the Election Commission cannot hold free and fair elections".
They believe it would help them wage a movement for election-time supportive government.
AL's Talukder Abdul Khaleque won big defeating BNP's mayor candidate Nazrul Islam Monju in Tuesday's KCC polls, marred by heavy show of force by the ruling party in and around polling stations, ballot box stuffing, and driving out polling agents of rival parties.
“We are satisfied by the result in the Khulna city polls and we think it will be a morale boost for our party leaders and activists,” AL presidium member Kazi Zafarullah told The Daily Star.
“The victory will also help us win the upcoming elections," he said.
He said the election sent a message that if Awami League remains united, no one can defeat it.
Zafarullah said, "There were 14 mayor aspirants in the party but we were able to ensure nomination of a single candidate and get support from everyone. If we ensure single candidates in every election, local government and national, we will win.
"But if there were several AL candidates, we will be defeated. It's clear.”
Some leaders of the ruling party, however, think that the party earned a bad name due to irregularities in the KCC polls. People would forget about it within days, but the mayor has been elected for the next five years, they said.
BNP standing committee member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury told The Daily Star that BNP was actually not beaten in the KCC polls. “It is the government who was defeated as it snatched BNP's victory exercising muscle power, and resorting to intimidation and various irregularities.”
“We have failed to get a mayor elected by losing the city corporation election. But at the end of the day, people realised that the ruling Awami League has become a political party of bankruptcy,” he added.
Khasru claimed that the BNP had gained a lot from the polls as it was able to show the people the government's "actual character" and that a free, fair and credible election was not possible under the Sheikh Hasina-led government.
"We will cash this in during our movement for holding the next national elections under a non-partisan government,” he added.
According to AL sources, party desperately wanted the win on Tuesday to prove that people have confidence in the government ahead of the Gazipur city and national polls.
Gazipur city polls was scheduled for Tuesday but the EC had to reschedule due to legal issues.
AL sources claimed that the ruling party did not want the Gazipur city polls to go ahead this month fearing defeat. They, however, said now the party would jump into campaigning with renewed vigour and with the KCC victory in the bag. They said the AL needs time to prepare for the Gazipur city polls and even more delays would be welcome.