Rebel challenge adds to final round fray
Like the previous four phases of the upazila elections, chairman contenders backed by the ruling Awami League and the BNP would have quite a few party rebels denting their vote banks when 74 upazilas go to polls tomorrow.
The way in which many rebels stayed in the race in the fifth phase, defying party high commands' directives, their persuasions, expulsions and threats of expulsion, it has exposed the parties' poor chain of command.
The BNP supported chairman candidates would face more rebels in this phase than their rivals backed by the AL. As of yesterday, the BNP had 55 dissident chairman candidates in 38 upazilas.
The ruling AL has 47 rebel chairman candidates in 30 upazila, according to information gathered by The Daily Star from the upazilas.
AL Joint General Secretary Mahabub Ul Alam Hanif on Friday had told The Daily Star that the AL was able to reduce the number of rebel chairman and vice-chairman contenders as the party had been monitoring the elections centrally, taking lessons from the first and second phases.
However, BNP Joint Secretary General Salahuddin Ahmed on the same day claimed that they had more than one chairman candidates in some upazilas as part of their strategy there. He did not explain what the BNP-backed candidates would gain through such a strategy.
Vice-chairman candidates blessed by the AL are, however, going to face more party rebels than their rivals supported by the BNP. There were 62 AL rebels in 33 upazilas against 43 BNP rebels in 27 upazilas.
In the first three phases of polls, the AL-backed chairman candidates had to deal with more rebels than the BNP-blessed contenders.
In the fourth phase, both the parties had equal number of rebels.
The upazila parishad election though non-partisan in nature appeared as a prestige issue for both the AL and the BNP, which led to the elections losing its non-partisan character and turn into a popularity meter for the parties.
To have a better chance of victory, both parties from the beginning of the polls had made vigorous efforts to pick a single candidate for each post in an upazila by convincing rebels to quit the race or back off.
They succeeded in some places but failed in many.
In several upazilas, supporters of rebels had clashed with the supporters of the party-backed candidates.
Early yesterday, supporters of an AL-backed chairman candidate and an AL-rebel runner clashed at Araishida Bazar of Ashuganj upazila in Brahmanbaria.