ALís yes to JS polls, no to upazila schedule
25th November 2008
The Awami League (AL) last night demanded scrapping of the upazila election schedule but formally accepted the fresh parliamentary polls schedule.
“The upazila polls schedule has to be cancelled and the Election Commission must set a date after the national elections for filing nomination papers for the upazila polls,” AL spokesman Syed Ashraful Islam said while briefing newsmen at Sheikh Hasina’s political office in Dhanmondi.
As per the upazila polls schedule, the last day for filing nomination papers is December 13. The final day for withdrawing nominations is December 31 and upazila election day is January 22, 2009.
“We accepted the election schedule [parliamentary election] responsibly… considering the interest of the country and democracy,” Ashraful said a day after the chief election commissioner announced a fresh polls schedule.
AL’s formal acceptance of the schedule removes the uncertainty over major political parties taking part in December 29 polls since BNP had already said that they would take part in the elections.
AL also demanded complete and immediate withdrawal of the state of emergency.
AL may review its nominations in more than 60 constituencies following widespread dissatisfaction among grassroots-level leaders over party picks.
An expert team of AL, which has been reviewing party nominations for several days, handed over a list of around 60 nominations to AL President Sheikh Hasina yesterday. The team suggested that she should make changes of nominations in those constituencies in order to ensure victory against candidates of BNP-Jamaat alliance, sources said.
The team also suggested that the AL chief review a number of the nominations in constituencies of the capital. It observed that party nominations were given before the last date for submitting nomination papers and blamed the Election Commission (EC) for the problems the AL has been facing for at least a week.
Grassroots-level leaders have been demonstrating in many constituencies and even in front of Hasina’s Sudha Sadan home for several days against AL high-ups’ picks.
Many rebel candidates of AL, who failed to get party tickets, have submitted nomination papers against the party picks in a number of constituencies. AL’s problems are unlikely to disappear until these nominations are withdrawn. This problem could have a negative impact on election results, party insiders believe.
Under the circumstances, AL high-ups including Hasina observed that BNP would definitely try to buy AL leaders, who failed to get AL tickets, with large amounts of money.
Sources said Hasina agreed to bring changes to nominations in some constituencies after resolving the election seat sharing issue with components of the AL-led grand alliance.
With only six days remaining for submitting nomination papers, AL could not have an agreement on sharing election seats with the components. Sources said AL may leave around 70 seats to components of the alliance.
Talking to The Daily Star a member of the AL Parliamentary Board said they failed to nominate good candidates in around 90 constituencies due to nepotism and influence from different quarters.
AL Parliamentary Board sources said primarily party nominations were given in many constituencies assuming that BNP would not take part in the elections and those candidates would win facing little competition.
“Now we have to face serious problems with those nominations as the BNP decided to contest the polls. The party must review those nominations to ensure a positive result in the elections,” said an AL Parliamentary Board member preferring not to be named.
The expert team recommended that the AL chief give nomination to those mid-level “reformist” leaders who were not given party tickets. Party insiders believe that “reformist” leaders like Sultan Mohammad Mansur Ahmed, AKM Jahangir Hossain, Mahmudur Rahman Manna and Akhtaruzzaman would certainly win in the elections if they are allowed to contest.
Party sources said Mansur should replace Ataur Rahman Shamim as AL candidate in Moulvibazar-2 constituency, Jahangir should replace Golam Moula Roni in Patuakhali-3, Masud Reza or Shamsul Alam Chunnu should replace Maj Gen (retd) Hafiz Mallik in Barisal-6, Akhtaruzzaman should replace Meher Afroz Chumki in Gazipur-5, Manna should replace Akram Hossain in Bogra-2, Maj Gen (retd) AMSA Amin should replace Zafar Ali in Kurigram-2, Alal Ahmed should replace Capt (retd) Gias Uddin Ahmed in Mymensingh-10, Khandaker Abdul Baten should replace Ahsanul Islam Titu in Tangail-6, Abdul Mannan should replace Sohrab Uddin in Kishoreganj-2, Mobarak Sikder should replace BM Mozammel Haque in Shariatpur-1.
Son of assassinated foreign minister Shah AMS Kibria, Reza Kibria should replace Abu Zahir as AL candidate in Habiganj-3 constituency, Mohibur Rahman should replace Shafiqur Rahman Chowdhury in Sylhet-2, Mohammad Ali Khokon should replace Harun-or-Rashid in Laxmipur-2, Ansar Ali Mridha should replace Maj Gen (retd) Golam Moula in Bogra-3, Syed Shamsul Alam Hiru should replace Mahbub Ara Gini in Gaibandha-2, MA Salam or Mamunur Rashid Kiron should replace Lutfunnahar Munni in Noakhali-3, Alaul Haque should replace Afzal Hossain in Kishoreganj-5 and Mizanul Haque should replace Nasirul Islam Awlad in Kishoreganj-3.
Yusuf Abdullah Harun should replace Jahangir Alam Sarker as AL candidate in Comilla-3, Sardar Amjad Hossain should replace Enamul Haque in Rajshahi-4, Sayeed Khokon should replace Mizanur Rahman Khan Dipu in Dhaka-6, Moqbul Hossain should replace MA Khaleque in Meherpur-2, Mirza Sultan Raza should replace Ali Azgar Tagor in Chuadanga-2, Nure Alam Siddiqui should replace Shafiqul Islam Apu in Jhenidah-2, Kamruzzaman Tuku should replace Mir Shawkat Ali in Bagerhat-2, Shafi Ahmed should replace Rebeka Momin in Netrakona-4, Ashraf Ali Khan should replace Lt Col (retd) Nur Khan in Netrakona-2.
Iftekhar Uddin Talukder Pintu should replace Manjur Kader Koreshi as AL candidate in Netrakona-3 constituency, Fatik Master should replace Zahirul Haque Mahon in Narsingdi-3, Syed Rafiqul Haque should replace Moazzem Hossain Raton in Sunamganj-1 and Maulana Sakhawat Hossain should replace Abdul Wahab in Jessore-6.
Meanwhile, a human chain was formed in Sylhet city demanding nomination of Sultan Mansur in Moulvibazar-2 constituency. Expatriate Bangladeshis in New York yesterday appealed to Hasina to consider Mansur’s nomination. AL Michigan and Los Angeles leaders also made similar appeals to the AL president, according to a report of New York-based news agency News World.
Jatiya Party (Manju) yesterday decided to join the AL-led grand electoral alliance.
Briefing journalists, Ashraf said the national elections must be held as per the latest schedule. There is no scope for deferring polls again as the government’s mandate will expire on December 31, he said.
“If the nation is pushed towards uncertainty by furthers delays, the government and the Election Commission will have to shoulder all responsibilities,” he said.
Ashraf said they are making election preparations by forging a grand alliance and following the new schedule. He said they will form a government with their allies if voted to power.
The AL leader criticised the interim government and termed it a “failed government”.
Source: Bangladesh News