AL, BNP brace for allies craving seats
12:00 AM, October 17, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:11 PM, October 25, 2018

Alliance Politics in The Run-up to Polls

AL, BNP brace for seat-sharing hurdles

The Awami League and the BNP, who lead the two major alliances, may not have much to offer their own leaders in the parliamentary polls if they want to keep their partners happy.

Partners of the AL-led 14-party alliance want 116 parliamentary seats set aside for their leaders to contest in the polls. On top of this, if Jatiya Party decides to join the alliance, like it did ahead of the 2008 polls, it would ask 100 seats to be reserved for JP leaders.

If the AL agrees to these demands, it will have only 84 seats for its leaders, according to alliance leaders and Jatiya Party.

The situation is almost the same in the BNP-led camp. Partners of its alliance have sought around 174 seats for their leaders aspiring to run, according to alliance leaders.

The BNP also has to set aside more seats for its partners in the newly formed Jatiya Oikyafront. 

None of the alliances, however, has started discussions on seat sharing even though the Election Commission has said the polls schedule could be announced any time after October 30.  

Asked, Health Minister Mohammad Nasim, coordinator of the AL-led alliance, said the EC was yet to announce the schedule and it was not clear if the BNP would run.

"If the BNP joins the polls, our seat sharing strategy will be different," Nasim, presidium member of the AL, told The Daily Star.

BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said they were yet to announce if they would take part in the polls and that there could be no question about talks on seat sharing now.

JP and Jamaat-e-Islami have considerable political strength and they won a number of seats in past elections. The others in the two major alliances are smaller parties and their past polls performances are not worth mentioning.

Many of them do not even have registration with the EC, a prerequisite to contesting the parliamentary election. If their leaders are nominated by their alliances, they would have to use the electoral symbols of the parties leading the alliances.

Jamaat-e-Islami, a major component in the BNP-led 20-party alliance (now reduced to 18 after two partners left yesterday), cannot contest the polls as a political party as its registration was scrapped. The party, however, wants the BNP to set aside 60 seats for its leaders to run.

JP, which leads a 58-party alliance, is yet to decide whether it will contest the polls under the 58-party alliance banner or join the AL-led alliance.

If the BNP joins the polls, JP will join the AL-led alliance, a senior leader of the party said.

"Some of the alliance partners [the 58-party combine] have sought seats for their leaders," said Ruhul Amin Hawlader, secretary general of JP. 

"We are yet to hold any discussion on seat sharing with partners of our alliance. If we join the AL-led alliance, the seat sharing will be different," he said, adding, "We will ask the Awami league to give us 100 seats for our leaders if we join them."

Other components of the AL-led alliance also expect a good number of seats for their leaders. 

Rashed Khan Menon, president of Workers Party of Bangladesh, said, “We have preparations to contest the polls alone and from an alliance. If we contest alone, 36 candidates will run. We have also submitted the names of 15 candidates to the Awmai League. We hope that at least we will get 12 seats but the whole matter depends on negotiations.”

Dilip Barua, general secretary of Samyabadi Dal, said they want to run in six constituencies. "I think we will get one seat from the Awami League. I want to contest from Chittagong-1.”

Mohammed Arash Ali, president of Gonotantri Party, said they have already received 25 applications from aspirants of his party. "We will make the list short and then submit it to the Awami League.”

Bangladesh Tarikat Federation initially wanted to run in 30 constituencies. "But considering the reality, we hope that we will get at least 10 seats. But the final decision will be made by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” Syed Nazibul Bashar Maizvandary, chairman of the party, said. 

Partners of the BNP-led alliance are also preparing to run.  

Khandakar Lutfor Rahman, general secretary of Jatiya Ganatantrik Party (Jagpa), said, “We have preparations to compete in 40 constituencies but we hope that we will get at least four seats set aside for us.”

Al Amin Bhuiyan, office secretary of Bangladesh Kalyan Party, said they want at least 10 seats for their leaders.

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