The BNP has maintained its lead over the Awami League in the Upazila Parishad elections, finishing ahead in the second phase of the polls in a benchmark of its strong support base at the grassroots.
After Thursday’s voting at 115 Upazilas across Bangladesh, unofficial results showed candidates endorsed by the BNP winning chairman posts in 51 Upazilas. Aspirants backed by its ally Jamaat-e-Islami won in eight Upazilas.
Put together, the number of chairman posts won by the combine in the first two legs is 37 more than what the ruling party has managed.
The Awami League-endorsed candidates won in 45 Upazilas in the second phase. It had won at 34 Upazilas in the first phase.
Results of Sirajganj’s Tarash, Barisal Sadar, Comilla’s Laksham, and Bagerhat’s Fakirhat Upazilas have not been published. Polling at 11 centres at Barisal Sadar, two at Laksham, and one at Tarash had been suspended.
Though the winner of the Vice Chairman’s post at Faikrhat has been decided, but the result of the Chairman post has been withheld as polling was suspended at one of the voting centres
Laws require the local government election to be non-political, but the political parties pervade all aspects of it, from fielding candidates to running campaigns and even pronouncing their own victories.
Moreover, with only about two months after the national election which the BNP boycotted, the Upazila elections are being seen as a test of popularity of the leading political parties.
BNP chief Khaleda Zia had reportedly asked her party leaders to do “everything they could” to help the 19-Party Alliance candidates win the Upazila Parishad elections.
Thursday’s polls witnessed more violence than the first phase in a parody of the Election Commission putting security forces backed up by the military on ‘maximum alert’. Polling was halted in all the 117 centres at Noakhali Sadar and 34 centres in other Upazilas because of violence.
A man was killed in a clash between police and Jamaat supporters at Noakhali’s Sonaimurhi. Reports of violence also came in from Bagerhat, Jessore and Thakurgaon.
The Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad has put on a brave face, saying the balloting was ‘peaceful’ barring ‘isolated’ incidents of violence.
The BNP raised allegations of takeover of polling centres and rigging by the ruling party. The Awami League denied those and was confident the results would be acceptable to all.
Alleging irregularities, BNP candidates in Cox’s Bazar, Barisal Sadar, Munshiganj Sadar, Noakhali’s Companyganj and Kabirhat, Jessore’s Sharsha and Kushtia’s Mirpur Upazilas announced a boycott of the polls and called for shutdown.
The BNP-backed candidates won a total of 96 chairman posts in the first two phases while the number is 20 for Jamaat.
Most of the male and female vice chairmen belong to the BNP-Jamaat combine.
The BNP went back on its stance of not contesting in any elections under Sheikh Hasina’s government and endorsed candidates in the Upazila elections.
In the first two phases, polls were held in 210 out of 487 Upazilas. Balloting in the rest will be held in four more phases.
Candidates supported by indigenous groups dominated the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Janasanghati Samiti (JSS) candidates secured chairman posts at three Upazilas and United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF) at one Upazila.
Only one Jatiya Party-backed candidate won a chairman post from Nilphamari’s Kishoreganj.
Independent candidate Khalaching Marma won at Bandarban’s Thanchi.
The Election Commission (EC) remained tight-lipped about the turnout.
BNP’s Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi hinted at future programmes protesting against ‘rigging’.
Awami League’s Advisory Council member HT Imam, however, said: “According to our information, voting had been peaceful in all the Upazilas.”
The ruling party, which tailed the BNP in the first phase, sought a moral high ground, saying holding free and fair elections was a ‘victory’ for the government.
The BNP, for its part, said people had showed ‘zero confidence’ in the government – the chance they may have well been denied in the Jan 5 polls, if the party’s assertion is anything to go by.
Source: Bd news24