EC, AL already in election mode
The Election Commission and Awami League seem to have started taking preparations for the coming national election.
The Jatiya Party, the main opposition in parliament, is also making preparations to participate on its own, not part of the AL-led alliance.
The AL and the JP are currently finalising their election manifestos and the lists of lawmaker nominees.
AL chief Sheikh Hasina started campaigning on August 2 in Rangpur by seeking votes. She asked the AL lawmakers to stay in their constituencies, make door-to-door visits to the constituents and quell feuds within the party.
To set an example, she even stayed at her Gopalganj-3 constituency for two days in July and met voters.
Almost all members of the ruling 14-party alliance are also getting ready for polls slated for January next year.
AL Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif told The Daily Star that the AL is completely focused on the 12th national election.
"We are taking all-out preparations for the election. We are meeting people, highlighting our government's achievements, collecting information to find the fittest nominees, organising rallies across the country, taking steps to keep grassroots united by resolving rifts, making door-to-door visits to woo voters, and drafting our manifesto," he said.
Meanwhile, the EC has redrawn 10 constituencies, registered two new political parties, updated the voters' list, and made a primary list of 42,350 polling centres.
Amendments to an electoral law have also been made.
Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Ahsan Habib Khan said, "We are making preparations to hold a free, fair, acceptable and participatory election in line with our roadmap announced in September last year."
Political parties are presumably making their own plans and policies for their preparations, he told The Daily Star yesterday.
Election Commissioner Anisur Rahman at a programme in Kishoreganj yesterday said the schedule for the polls would be announced in November.
"The participation of all parties in the election does not depend on us. Parties are to decide individually if they want to take part in the polls. But we will create a conducive atmosphere for elections," he said.
The current parliament expires on January 29. According to the constitution, the national election must be held anytime during the final 90 days of the parliament's tenure. The 90-day countdown starts on November 1.
The EC has approved 66 local observers to monitor the polls and invited more organisations to observe the elections. It is also at the final stage of changing the policy for approving international observers and journalists.
The procurement of election materials like transparent ballot boxes, seals for the ballot boxes, stamp pads, indelible ink markers, official seals, and marking seals will be completed between this month and November, EC officials said.
THE AL CAMPAIGNING
The ruling party's manifesto will highlight the government achievements. It will organise concerts in every district town to publicise the achievements.
Teams are being formed to run social media campaigns highlighting the achievements and "misrule during the BNP-Jamaat alliance".
The promise of a "Smart Bangladesh" by 2041 will also be prominent in its manifesto.
The AL has conducted several surveys to find suitable candidates and another survey is going on. It wants to make sure no disgruntled AL leader runs against the party nominees. The AL plans to field independent candidates so that the election appears participatory even if the BNP shuns it.
AL's top leaders are in talks with like-minded political parties to bring them under its fold and with other parties to get them to take part in the polls and make the election look participatory.
It has also had preliminary talks with allies over the share of seats in parliament.
"After the PM returns from the US, she will start campaigning across the country," said an AL praesidium member.
Hasina will inaugurate a number of mega projects before November to impress the voters.
An AL insider said, "An election-time government with a small number of cabinet members will likely be formed in the first half of November."
THE JP GETTING READY
The JP is asking its probable nominees to get ready for the election, according to sources.
It is looking for the best candidates in areas where there are not many supporters of the party. It believes that without a good number of MPs in parliament, the party will become weak, said a JP leader.
"We want to make the party vibrant through holding local councils," JP Chairman GM Quader told this newspaper.
"We will try our best to field candidates in all 300 constituencies," he added.
President of AL ally Workers Party of Bangladesh Rashed Khan Menon yesterday said, "We are collecting names of probable candidates from the districts." He said they were in discussion with AL over seat-sharing but no final decision has been made.