AL to foster competition in upazila polls


Abu Jakir :
In a bid to ensure the upcoming Upazila Parishad elections are free, fair, credible, and competitive, the ruling Awami League has adopted a groundbreaking non-partisan approach, a move welcomed by party insiders.

The decision aims to promote inclusivity and transparency in local governance, breaking away from traditional party practices.

The Awami League’s high-ranking officials have expressed their commitment to making the local body elections a model of legitimacy, free from doubts about fairness.

However, challenges loom large as the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and several other parties have announced their intention to boycott the elections, presenting a new obstacle for the ruling party.

Scheduled for March, the upcoming Upazila Parishad elections mark the first time candidates will be nominated by political parties, a strategic departure from past practices.

This shift seeks to encourage active participation from various political entities, fostering a democratic environment that enhances voter turnout.

The decision comes on the heels of the controversy surrounding the last general elections, where low voter turnout sparked criticism from both local and international communities.

The Awami League insiders acknowledge that the criticism has played a significant role in steering the party toward a non-partisan approach for the upcoming local body elections.

To ensure a competitive electoral landscape, the ruling party is actively encouraging opposition BNP members to contest independently, a move confirmed by several party policymakers.

Members of the grand alliance, allies of the Awami League, are also urged to participate independently, indicating a departure from the usual coalition strategy.

The Awami League recognises the potential for violence if only their candidates participate, and is determined to avoid a repeat of one-sided elections. Party insiders reveal a strong desire for law enforcement to play a stern role in maintaining order during the elections.


Responding to inquiries, AL Presidium Member Jahangir Kabir Nanak stated, “Our main objective is to make the upcoming local body elections free, fair, and competitive, allowing candidates from all political parties to participate without intimidation.”

Nanak stressed that this move signals a commitment to strengthening local governance and ensuring democratic values prevail at the grassroots level.

AL Joint General Secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim echoed these sentiments, emphasizing that the decision to refrain from endorsing party candidates aims to encourage competition and the active participation of other political parties.

Nasim, also a member of the ruling party’s nomination board for local government elections, highlighted that adopting a non-partisan approach will contribute to minimizing intra-party conflicts within the Awami League.

Besides, the main opposition BNP on Thursday announced it would not join any election held under the present government and with the present election commission.

Talking to this correspondent, BNP’s Senior Joint Secretary General, Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, asserted, “We will refrain from participating in any election under Sheikh Hasina, as past elections were not conducted in a free, fair, and credible manner, and we anticipate a similar scenario in the future.”

Rizvi also commented on the ruling Awami League’s decision to conduct the upcoming Upazila Parishad elections in a non-partisan manner, suggesting that it was prompted by the rejection of their party symbol, the Nouka (Boat), by the people of the country.

However, he added that any grassroots leader from the BNP desiring to participate in the local body polls would need to resign from the party.

There are 492 upazilas in the country and the election will be held in five phases in 481 upazilas. The election commission plans to conduct the polls in four phases in 464 upazilas within March while the rest will be carried out after Eid-al-Fitr.

All the 14 allies of the Awami League took part separately in all the local government elections except a few city corporation polls earlier. They will join the upazila polls separately again.

In the 2019 upazila parishad elections across 473 upazilas, candidates affiliated with the ruling Awami League clinched victory in 320 chairmanship positions, with 115 uncontested. Out of these, 136 individuals, running as independent candidates, emerged victorious, the majority of whom were supporters or leaders of the Awami League.