Despite the BNP declaring it would not contest city polls, Sylhet Mayor Ariful Haque Choudhury, a BNP candidate, has said he will take part in the city corporation elections, but in a “different context”.
“I will clarify the context in which I will be a candidate for the Sylhet city election during the rally slated for 20 May,” said the BNP leader at a May Day event in Sylhet on Monday (1 May).
Ariful Haque said, “We are now fighting for our rights. Our party [BNP] will not participate in the upcoming city corporation elections to claim our rights. But in the context of Sylhet, we will go for the election.”
He further said, “We have called a rally on 20 May to explain the reasons why BNP will not contest in the elections, and why we will go for the election in Sylhet. I will explain everything in detail to the people there.”
Stating that this year’s city elections will be a farce, he said, “The EVMs [electronic voting machines] have been cancelled in the national elections. But it will be used in the city corporation elections. The EVM is one of their [the ruling party] mechanisms. Even if people vote for their favourite candidate, another person will be declared winner by manipulation. So, this is going to be a complete farce.”
Ariful Haque was elected as the mayor of Sylhet city in the last two elections of 2013 and 2018 as a BNP candidate.
Earlier, the BNP announced it will not participate in any election under the current government. The party also boycotted the city elections.
Speaking to the media on Saturday, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir dismissed media reports claiming that party men were taking part in the upcoming polls in five city corporations – Gazipur, Sylhet, Khulna, Rajshahi and Barishal – as independent candidates.
“We have made it very clear that we are not going to take part in any local government elections,” Fakhrul said.
In such a situation, there was confusion regarding whether Ariful Haque, a member of the central committee of BNP, would be a candidate for the election.
After the election schedule announcement, Arif went to London to meet BNP Acting Chairman Tarique Rahman.
According to the election schedule, voting will be held in Sylhet City Corporation on 21 June. Awami League’s candidate in this election is Md Anwaruzzaman Chowdhury, joint secretary of the party’s United Kingdom branch.