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UP polls: Independent candidates stole show as BNP, JaPa failed to play

WT24 Desk

It is neither of BNP nor of the main opposition in parliament Jatiya Party, but the independent candidates have emerged as the main competitors of pro-Awami League hopefuls in the ongoing staggered Union Parishad elections that started in March last.

The independent candidates, who mostly known as Awami League rebels, won the chairman posts which double than BNP’s in the first two phases of the UP election held on March 22 and 30 last, with independent contenders bagging 220 chairman posts, while BNP 110 and Jatiya Party eight posts.

Talking to UNB, election observers and political leaders said independent candidates are coming out successful in their good numbers in the UP polls for many regional and political reasons, including their popularity and political clout, political parties’ failure to nominate the right candidates and lack of proper election environment and seriousness among opposition candidates, mainly that of BNP.

Those talked to the news agency are former Chief Election Commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda, local government experts M Hafizuddin Ahmed Khan, Dr Tofail Ahmed, Awami league joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif and BNP vice chairman Abdullah Al Noman.

According to Election Commission statistics, out of over 1300 UPs in the two phases, AL candidates became chairmen in 971 UPs, including the 87 who got elected unopposed.

Most of the independent candidates who got elected chairmen had failed to manage Awami League tickets to contest the UP elections held along the party line for the first time in the country.

Former Chief Election Commissioner Shamsul Huda said the independent chairman candidates are doing well due to their greater popularity than that of the ones nominated by political parties.

“Political parties make mistakes in some cases in picking their right candidates for bad politics. As the most wining independent candidates belong to Awami League, it can be said Awami League chose wrong contenders ignoring popular and competent ones in those UPs.”

Mentioning that the characteristics of the UP polls quite different from other ones, Huda said people are more careful in selecting their candidates in this election as they get direct services form UP chairmen.

Asked why the independent or AL rebel candidates are doing well than BNP and other party candidates, the former CEC said though the opposition candidates are succumbing to ruling party candidates’ influence due to their organisational weakness, independent ones are putting up resistance using their popularity.

Dr Tofail Ahmed said it is not possible to generalise the reasons behind the considerable success of the independent candidates as it is a bizarre election. “You can’t call it an election. So, it’s not possible to properly analysis the results of an unusual election.”

He, however, said the independent candidates are doing well for various regional and political reasons.

Hafizuddin Ahmed said the number of independent chairman candidates is significantly larger than that of BNP contenders as the party supporters have left the election field bowing down to the influence and political power of ruling party men.

He also thinks the grassroots BNP leaders and activists were not serious in the election fearing arrest, reprisal and harassment.

AL joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif thinks that independent candidates did better than BNP’s as the party seems insincere about the election. “BNP has joined the election only with an intention to make the Election Commission and the government ‘controversial.”

Besides, he said BNP grassroots leaders are frustrated over the failures and dubious role of its central leaders which deterred them to vote for their party candidates.

BNP vice chairman Abdullah Al Noman said in most UPs ruling party men resorted to repressive acts, muscle power and violence to establish their full control over voting centres and election areas to snatch victory of BNP candidates.

“It’s almost a lopsided election. Only ruling party men could go to the polling stations and they either vote for their party candidates or for their rebel ones,” he said, UNB reports.

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