Grassroots leaders of the BNP's Rangpur and Rajshahi divisions yesterday pledged to stay in the electoral race regardless of the situation and support the candidates to be nominated by the party.
They made the promise while being interviewed by the BNP nomination board comprising BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman, Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and the party's standing committee members.
The board asked the aspirants to submit their nomination papers to the returning officers.
Through video conference, Tarique, who has been staying in London since 2008, interviewed 540 nomination seekers from 72 constituencies of 16 districts in the two divisions at the BNP chief's Gulshan office.
Tarique was sentenced to 17 years in prison in two corruption cases and life imprisonment in the August 21 grenade attack.
The Awami League questioned his inclusion in the BNP nomination board and drew the Election Commission's attention to the issue. In response, the EC said it would look into the matter.
This correspondent talked to more than a dozen BNP nomination seekers who said the board asked them what role they had played for the party and the country in the last 12 years.
It also asked how many times they landed in jail and how many cases they are facing now.
The board told them that the party would finalise the names after scrutiny, and that they have to work together for the candidates to be nominated by the party.
“I was asked whether I will be in the electoral race even in an adverse situation. In reply, I promised to stay in the race till the end,” Khondker Ahad Ahmed, a nomination seeker from Gaibandha-2 constituency, told this newspaper.
The grassroots leader said he would abide by whatever decisions the party makes with regard to nomination.
“I told the board that I was in jail along with some 25 leaders when Khaleda Zia was sent to prison. Later, I was released on bail and also helped other party men secure bail,” he mentioned.
Apart from Ahad, four aspirants from Gaibandha-2 were interviewed by the board.
Farhad Hossain Azad, an aspirant from Panchagarh-2, said he was interviewed, along with three others from the constituency.
“We all said that nomination should be given to a party leader, not to anyone from the components of the BNP-led alliance.”
Tasmia Pradhan, daughter of former Jatiya Ganatantrik Party (Jagpa) president Shafiul Alam Pradhan, has expressed her willingness to contest from the constituency. Jagpa is a component of the BNP-led combine.
Azad further said, “The secretary general wanted to know why I want to contest the polls, and if someone else gets the party ticket, would I work for the candidate?”
Abdul Halim, an aspirant from Dinajpur-4, said Tarique wanted to know why the party should give him nomination.
“I said I have been working for the party for the last 25 years. And I have no dispute with any party men. If I get nomination, I will win the polls,” he said.
Zahidur Rahman Zahid, who is seeking nomination from Thakurgaon-3, said Tarique wanted to know why he should be given the party ticket as he lost the last election.
“In reply, I said I could not win the last polls due to intra-party conflicts. But I will win the election this time if party men support me,” he mentioned.
Eleven aspirants, including Zahid, from the constituency collected nomination forms.
Nadim Mostafa, a nomination seeker from Rajshahi-5, said he told the board that he would work for whoever gets the party ticket.
The BNP sold 4,580 nomination forms in five days till Friday. The last date for submission of the nomination papers is November 28.
Yesterday, the aspirants of each of the 72 constituencies were interviewed together. Later, they gave undertakings to the nomination board that they would work for the candidates to be nominated by the party.
In the afternoon, Fakhrul told reporters, “We directed all aspirants to make preparations for the polls and guard the polling stations on the election day.
“We also asked them to stay alert so that no one can occupy any polling station.”