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BNP to give city polls a miss

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RAFIQUL ISLAM AZAD

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has no plans to field mayoral candidates in elections to the Dhaka City Corporations (South and North). The party may, however, lend support to anti-Awami League candidates to ensure defeat of pro-government nominees, party sources say. Although the BNP policy makers say they are giving priority to their demand for national elections to be held in the country, the party does not wish to let the ruling party get a free hand either.
The BNP has agreed, in principle, not to field any mayoral candidates in the DCC polls; instead it is planning to lend support to neutral candidates or those not backed by the ruling party, they say.
“We are not thinking about the DCC polls at this moment. Top priority should be given to go for national elections considering the ongoing political stalemate,” said BNP Standing Committee member Lt Gen (Retd) Mahbubur Rahman.
Speaking to The Independent, he said that the government has organised the city corporation polls to divert public attention from the national elections and weaken their ongoing movement. “Our movement will be diluted if we take part in the local government elections,” he said alleging that the government wanted to put a break on the movement.
The BNP leader, however, noted that this being a local government election, BNP supporters could take part in the DCC polls as councillors on their own.
A senior leader preferring anonymity said that the DCC polls have turned into a challenge for the 20-party alliance, which is carrying on the movement demanding a free and fair parliamentary poll under a non-partisan government.
He, however, said that the alliance would not let the two important mayoral posts of the city go to the ruling party. “The government wants to ensure its victory in the election when there are no opponents…keeping the opposition busy with their movement. The Alliance will not let them go unchallenged,” the leader said.
Meanwhile, the ruling Awami League has already nominated business leaders Anisul Haque and Sayed Khokan, son of former mayor Mohammed Hanif, as mayoral candidates for the Dhaka North City Corporation and the Dhaka South City Corporation, respectively.
Convenor of the Nagorik Oikya Mahmudur Rahman Manna, currently in jail on sedition charges, may win BNP support if he runs for the post as mayoral candidate for DNCC. Dr Tuhin Malik, a senior lawyer, also may also get BNP support if he decides to run.
The BNP sources said many leaders would like to see former Chhatra Dal leader Asaduzzaman Ripon as the mayoral candidate for the Dhaka South City Corporation.
One of the ruling party partners, Ershad-led Jatiya Party, yesterday announced its own mayoral candidate for the two city corporations. They are Haji Saifuddin Ahmed Milon for Dhaka South and Bahauddin Bablu for Dhaka North.
The Election Commission, preparing to hold the Dhaka City Corporation polls, is likely to announce the schedule this month.