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AL sees a risky DNCC by-election

WT24 Desk

Leaders of ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) are considering the by-polls to the mayor post at Dhaka North City Corporation although the party officially has not started yet talking about it, according to report.

Following the death of DNCC mayor Annisul Huq on 30 November, the government has declared vacant the mayoral post from 1 December as per Article 15(E) of the Local Government (City Corporation) Act 2009.

According to the electoral law, the election commission will now have to hold a by-poll to elect people’s representative for the vacant post in 90 days for the rest of the DNCC tenure.

Election commission secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed on Sunday told a group of newsmen that the commission is ready to hold the by-polls in 90 days to the mayoral post.

Several senior leaders of the party said it’s been difficult for the ruling party to choose a candidate for a mayoral post. They said the party will face a tough challenge if it cannot find anyone like Annisul.

At the same time, the by-polls will be a challenge for the ruling party as the election atmosphere – be it good or bad – will put an impact on national politics with its outcome being scrutinised at home and abroad just one year ahead of the next general elections, they observed.

Against this backdrop, they said, the by-election to a city corporation of the capital city which has appeared like “something from out of the blue” has put the ruling party in a difficult position.

AL leaders said the party will make a decision in this regard after the return of prime minister Sheikh Hasina from Cambodia and once the qul khawani of Annisul Huq is held.

AL’s arch-rival the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) insiders said the party is likely to join the by-polls although they too yet to start talking about selecting the candidate within the party.

Several names of the possible candidates, apart from Tabith Awal who was BNP’s candidate against Annisul Huq, are, however, being discussed in the party.

BNP thinks its candidates will sweep to victory if fairness and neutrality are ensured in the by-poll, because Tabith Awal bagged as high as 300,000 votes even after he boycotted the polls halfway.

The party also thinks that if the by-poll is marred by rigging and manipulation, it would embolden its demand for holding the next general elections under a party-neutral government.

AL policymakers meanwhile said many aspirants have already expressed their interest to contest the by-polls, but party president Sheikh Hasina’s say is the final which will be clear in next one or two weeks.

Talking to newsmen AL presidium member Faruq Khan, who was in charge of coordination in the last DNCC polls, said the party has yet started discussion on the by-poll.

He said the ministry has declared the post vacant and the election commission will now announce the election schedule. “And Awami League too will start sorting out its possible candidates.”

He said given the way the north city corporation of the capital was developed, city dwellers will vote for AL candidate.

A presidium member of the party said the DNCC area is comprised of eight parliamentary constituencies, so the DNCC by-polls will have huge impact on the next general elections to be held in one year time.

Talking to newsmen on Tuesday, AL general secretary and road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader said the party will pick a candidate who will be able to win the by-polls.

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