AL Nominees: In quest for convenient rivals
Many Awami League nominees find themselves in a dicey situation, as they may have to face a tough challenge from party colleagues running as independents or incur the high command's wrath for an uncontested win.
They have figured a possible way out though. They are requesting smaller political parties to field candidates in their constituencies. If they have a half-decent opponent, they will try to dissuade the party from allowing other AL leaders to run as independents because the latter would pose a formidable challenge.
AL sources said the nominees believe this will achieve two goals: the election in their constituencies will not go uncontested and the candidates of smaller parties will be easier to beat on January 7 than their AL colleagues.
The AL ticket winners are being picky about which parties they are reaching out to.
They do not want too weak an opponent as it will reflect badly on them and may not be enough to keep the party from fielding "AL-independents".
They are going for parties that have a decent number of votes in the bank.
AL nominees in three constituencies in the capital are among the party ticket holders scrambling to have opponents from smaller parties, the sources said.
Some offered to go the extra mile to have opponents in the race.
Sources said a number of AL nominees told smaller parties that they would pay for the nomination forms of their opponents and have their campaign posters printed.
Pressure is mounting on the smaller parties to nominate candidates, but the problem is that some of these parties do not have the capacity to field candidates in all constituencies.
A few of them are running for the first time and the candidates they are picking are hardly known by the constituents, said AL insiders with knowledge of the developments.
Even if the AL nominees succeed in getting opponents from smaller parties, it will not be easy to stop the ruling party from giving the go-ahead to an AL-endorsed independent.
Party President Sheikh Hasina on Sunday spoke in favour of such independents apparently to make the election look competitive.
She also threatened punitive action against AL nominees who would win without any competition whatsoever.
Talking to reporters at the AL chief's Dhanmondi office, party General Secretary Obaidul Quader yesterday said the party would not allow all willing AL leaders to run as independents.
"We have taken a strategic decision. We have time until December 17. We can make changes or corrections within the time. We are a political party participating in the election. So, obviously we have a strategy," he said.
Many leaders who have been denied the party tickets are preparing to run as independents since the BNP and like-minded parties are almost certain not to run.
Some of these so-called independents are formidable. Many AL nominees and incumbents have tried and failed to get their opponents within the party to back off.
Twenty-six of the 44 registered parties are taking part in the polls.
Of them, the AL, Jatiya Party, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, Bangladesh Tarikat Federation, Bangladesh Kalyan Party, and the Bangladesh Supreme Party-led Liberal Islamic Alliance have unveiled their candidates.
JP nominated 287 candidates. JSD fielded candidates in 181 constituencies, Liberal Islamic Alliance in 121 and Tarikat Federation in 123 constituencies.
While declaring the nominees for Liberal Islamic Alliance, BSP chief Syed Saifuddin Ahmed said they would field candidates in 200 constituencies and they have 30 "heavyweights".
Newly registered Trinamool BNP and little-known parties like Bangladesh Sangskritik Muktijote and Bangladesh Congress said they would field candidates in all 300 constituencies.