Unease in BNP over city polls
Though the BNP has said it will not take part in the coming elections to five city corporations, the party fears that some of its leaders may run in the polls violating its directive.
Going beyond the party's decision, BNP leaders Taimur Alam Khandaker and Monirul Haque Sakku had contested the last polls to Narayanganj and Cumilla city corporations as independents and both of them were defeated.
Party insiders said local BNP leaders who have been working in their electoral areas for a long time may join the city polls.
"We have decided that we will not take part in any election under the incumbent government. So, if anyone violates the party's order, we will take steps after seeing the situation," Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, secretary general of the BNP, told The Daily Star yesterday.
He said those who contested city polls previously going against the party's decision were expelled. "We are in a movement. So, there is no question of joining any polls under the incumbent government."
The Election Commission has already announced the schedule for the polls to five city corporations -- Gazipur, Sylhet, Khulna, Barishal and Rajshahi. In the 2018 polls to those five city corporations, AL candidates won four mayoral posts while the BNP's nominee became victorious in one.
The opposition party's candidates won all five mayoral polls in those cities in 2013.
Party sources said there are many qualified and popular central and local BNP leaders, including former ministers, lawmakers and mayors, who are eying mayoral posts in those five city corporations.
They may contest the polls for at least two reasons -- being cornered in the party, and not having a good portfolio in the BNP.
"So, some party leaders can take part in the polls out of grievances," said a senior BNP leader, wishing not to be named.
He also said the AL may entice local BNP leaders to take part in the elections and Abdus Sattar Bhuiyan is an example of that.
Sattar, who resigned from parliament and the BNP, was re-elected MP from Brahmanbaria-2 as an independent candidate in the by-election to the parliamentary constituency in February. Many AL leaders campaigned for Sattar as the party didn't fieldany candidate in that by-polls.
"So, the government will try to replicate the Brahmanbaria model in the five city corporations. And it is a challenge for the BNP to protect its leaders from falling into the trap of such a plot," said the senior BNP leader.
A section of party leaders, however, believe that the electoral field should not be left empty, and the BNP should contest the coming city polls to prove that free and fair election is not possible under the incumbent government.
They said that many local BNP leaders worked for the rebel AL candidates in various local elections, and some of them even worked for the ruling party candidates to avoid police harassment.
So, the five city polls could be an opportunity for the party to bring its leaders out from those traps, they added.
Hasan Uddin Sarkar, BNP's mayoral candidate in Gazipur city polls in 2018, said, "The party has decided not to participate in the polls. So, I will not take part in the election. But the party men may run for councillor posts."
Nazrul Islam Manju, who contested Khulna city mayoral polls in 2018, said, "I think the party should review its decision of not participating in the local government elections."
Asked whether he would run for mayor, he said, "I am under pressure from my party colleagues to contest the polls, but I am yet to make a decision in this regard."