Around 1,700 aspirants from alliances led by Awami League and BNP are filing nominations in 300 constituencies as both the camps failed to pick a single contender in every seat for the upcoming parliamentary election.
The two major political parties held a series of meetings with their allies for more than a week but the seat-sharing could not be settled, delaying the unveiling of the final list of candidates.
The discord caused the AL and BNP to let their partners file nomination papers as many as they want. Today is the last day for submission.
The alliances now look to resume the seat-sharing talks after getting results of the scrutiny of nomination papers by the ROs on December 2.
They will have more than a week to settle the disputes as the final candidate in a constituency must be picked by December 9, the last date for withdrawal of nomination papers.
But for now, the grand alliance led by the ruling AL is allowing 663 aspirants to file nominations. And the BNP-led 20-party alliance and Jatiya Oikyafront have 1,023.
Once they finalise the candidate in a constituency, other aspirants either will have to quit the race or their candidacies will automatically be void as they will not get electoral symbols of the respective parties.
The alliances will then formally disclose the lists of their nominees.
Therefore, those who are filing nomination papers today will have to wait more than a week to know their fate.
On Sunday, the AL distributed nomination letters for 248 constituencies, keeping the remaining seats for its allies.
The party, however, handed out the letters for the remaining seats to its candidates yesterday in the changed situation. It has multiple candidates in at least eight constituencies, said party insiders.
Its rival BNP gave nomination letters to around 800 candidates for 280 seats in the last two days, fielding more than one candidate each in almost every constituency, according to BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.
The party adopted the strategy considering that there could be some exclusion during the scrutiny by returning officers, and if one is disqualified, the backup candidate may run for the polls.
In support of having multiple candidates, the BNP policymakers say many of the aspirants have been facing criminal cases and some are already convicted by the court. Their fate hangs in the balance.
Through an internal investigation, the party also found that more than 40 aspirants submitted papers to its nomination board hiding their financial problems including loan rescheduling.
“We thought we cannot keep 40 seats vacant. This led us to keep alternative candidates for each of the constituencies. For the party aspirants who were repressed in the last 10 years, the nomination letters are sort of recognition of their devotion,” BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said.
The components of the alliances led by AL and BNP will also submit nomination papers separately today.
The Jatiya Party, a key component of AL-led grand alliance, has decided to field candidates for 200 seats, Ruhul Amin Hawlader, secretary general of JP, told The Daily Star yesterday.
There has been a series of talks in the last few weeks between the AL and JP leaders but the issue of seat-sharing remains unresolved.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, JP presidium member Foysal Chisty claimed that the ruling AL unofficially assured them of 47 seats.
Of the seats, AL has sitting MPs in Satkhira-2, Natore-1, Rajshahi-5, Dinajpur-6, Noakhali-1, Dhaka-11, Cox's Bazar-3, Lalmonirhat-3, Barishal-2 and Gaibandha-5, according to findings of this paper.
On the other hand, AL has given nomination to its candidates in four constituencies where JP has its incumbent lawmakers.
Prof AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury-led Juktofront, which sided with the AL recently, will submit nomination papers for 60 seats, the alliance leaders said.
Two factions of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, components of AL-led alliance, decided to field candidates in 50 constituencies.
Workers Party of Bangladesh will file nomination papers for 34 seats. Its President Rashed Khan Menon, his son Anik Rashed Khan and 28 other candidates submitted nomination papers to the returning officers in different districts, said Anisur Rahman Mallick, a member of the party politbureau.
“We have changed our earlier decision [to disclose names of the nominees]. Due to tactical and technical reasons, we have decided to publish the list of the alliance candidates after scrutiny of nomination papers [on December 2],” Obaidul Quader, AL general secretary, said at a press conference on Monday.
PICTURE OF OPPOSITION CAMP
Dr Kamal Hossain-led Gonoforum, a key component of Jatiya Oikyafront, a recently formed alliance comprised of BNP and several other parties, is likely to field candidates in 113 seats, said its leader Subrata Chowdhury.
"We will finalise candidates after the scrutiny of the nomination papers," he added.
Of the other alliance partners, Krishak Sramik Janata League has decided to file nomination papers for 50 seats and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD-Rob) for 30 seats, its leaders said.
Leaders of Nagorik Oikya would contest the upcoming polls in nine seats with BNP's electoral symbol, said its chief Mahmudur Rahman Manna.
The seat-sharing was discussed at an Oikyafront meeting yesterday.
"The alliance partners could not reach any resolution on seat-sharing and that is why the decision has been made to field party-wise candidates," said Dr Kamal after the meeting, held at his residence.
"It will be later decided which candidates will contest under the banner of Oikyafront and in which constituencies."
Jamaat-e-Islami, a key component of BNP-led 20-party alliance, will submit nomination papers for its candidates in around 60 constituencies. It gave a list to BNP and held a series of meetings to settle the matter, sources said.
Syed Abdullah Md Taher, a member of Jamaat central executive council, told The Daily Star last night that they have reached a consensus with BNP over seat-sharing and BNP has promised them 25 seats.
"But we will keep bargaining to get four more seats," he said.
The Election Commission has scrapped the registration of Jamaat, making it clear that the party will not be able to contest the upcoming national election.
The party will contest the polls with BNP's electoral symbol, the sheaf of paddy.
Jatiya Party (Jafar), another component of 20-party combine, claimed they will file nomination papers for five constituencies.
Another opposition combine, the Left Democratic Alliance, will submit more than 150 nomination papers today, Mujahidul Islam Selim, president of Communist Party of Bangladesh, told The Daily Star.
"We will finalise our candidates after the scrutiny," he said.
Besides, Islami Andolon Bangladesh's leader HM Saiful Islam yesterday told this newspaper that they will field 300 candidates to contest the polls.