AL to be ‘relieved’ if BNP boycotts polls
The ruling Awami League still keeps its solitary control on electioneering, forcing the oppositions out of the pitch, though the 11th parliamentary election is just four days away.
The ruling camp is now only concerned about the BNP-led oppositions’ sudden control of the voting centres on the polling day, said more than one AL leaders at the policy-making level, adding that the AL would be happy if BNP pulls out of the race at the last moment.
The party officials said AL earlier had a plan to create pressure on the BNP-led alliance to bring them to the polls race and yet keep them away from canvassing.
The police and the administration, the AL leaders added, are just helping them execute the strategies.
The BNP had hoped that things would change following the deployment of army, but that did not happen either.
In the last two days, a rumour is hovering around the political arena that under the circumstances, BNP and Oikya Front may quit the upcoming polls.
According to the AL leaders, keeping in mind the possible pull-out of BNP from the elections, the AL allowed its alliance members to field their own candidates.
One of the key partners of the AL-led Mahajote (grand alliance) HM Ershad’s Jatiya Party was given 26 seats. Despite that, Ershad has fielded 148 more candidates. The 14-party’s Workers Party, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JaSaD), Tarikat Federation, a fraction of Jatiya Party, former president AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury-led Jukta Front have also put more candidates.
Those who did not get any seats during the allocation also kept some candidates in different constituencies. So, there is no scope for AL candidates to win any seat unopposed should BNP pull out.
On the other hand, if BNP and other opposition parties boycott the elections, their symbols will still remain in the ballot papers. It means they have participated in the polls. This kind of possible situation will create opportunities for the other members of the AL-led alliance.
The AL leaders said they did not want the voters to have a feeling that they might lose. That is why the ruling camp kept a tight grip on the campaigning from the beginning.
They will keep continue the show of muscle power and administrative pressure to keep BNP away from the electioneering, confessed the officials.
The AL leaders, they added, then targeted the BNP candidates to give a clear message to its activists. As a result, the BNP and oppositions alliance are apparently cornered.
A senior leader told Prothom Alo that they have succeeded to give a message to the people that AL is going to power again.
Another source at the policy-making level said if BNP does not quit the polls, there is an apprehension of violence on the voting day.
The AL will try its best to avoid the violence on the day, said the source adding that if BNP pulls out of the polls, AL will rather be relaxed.
Asked about the matter, AL general secretary Obaidul Quader told newsmen on 13 December that the AL has no say about other candidates of the AL-led alliance.
“We’ve a strategy. We’ve a clear strategy in this regard,” Obaidul added. “Everything will be clear on the voting day. We cannot have uncontested polls this time.”
More than one leaders related to the AL electioneering committee said they are smearing the same strategies which they applied during the last Gazipur, Rajshahi, Khulna, Barisal city corporation polls where all parties participated and election violence and killings were few.
During the city polls, BNP activists were kicked out of the election fields and its polling agents were dragged out of the polling centres.
There is a plan to keep the BNP polling agents out of the election booths, too.
With a view to keeping BNP activists away from the polling centres, arrest drives were conducted and it will continue till the election day.
A central leader and candidate of the next general elections seeking anonymity said AL has so far been successful in keeping BNP away from the electioneering.
The AL was fiercely criticised for holding a lopsided election in 2014. If BNP quits the polls this time, they will also have to share the condemnation.