Tier 1 candidates will be replaced by subsequent tiers in case of arrest
Party actively working to prepare candidates
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has devised a three-tier candidate selection strategy ahead of the national parliamentary elections amidst concerns of legal battles and imprisonment faced by top leaders.
The party is actively working to prepare candidates for the crucial elections while simultaneously pursuing its one-point movement for the resignation of the government.
Under the strategy, the top tier of candidates will include established party leaders, tier 2 will include less established party leaders, and tier 3 will include leaders who have been active and gained prominence during the one-point movement. Top tier candidates will be replaced by candidates from the lower tiers if they are arrested.
BNP leaders said the trial of BNP leaders and activists over cases spanning the last 14 years has surged in recent months, totaling a staggering 141,934 cases with 4,940,492 individuals accused. As a result, the BNP has been forced to reconsider its candidate selection process, prioritizing active leaders in the field.
According to BNP sources, potential candidates across all constituencies began their preparations a year ahead of the elections. However, the spectre of incarceration looms large over many BNP leaders, raising the urgency to prepare alternative candidates for the second and third phases of the election.
Rumours have circulated regarding potential negotiations between the BNP and the ruling Awami League government for the allocation of 70 parliamentary seats, although top BNP leaders have dismissed these claims as unsubstantiated.
BNP leaders remain steadfast in their belief that a fair election will spell the end of the Awami League’s rule. BNP Joint Secretary-General Moazzem Hossain Alal emphasized their commitment to the one-point movement aimed at toppling the government, saying: “Our countrywide one-point movement to overthrow the government will take a new form in September; we will strengthen the movement by becoming stronger.”
Despite their focus on street-level activism, the BNP leaders have expressed confidence in their electoral prospects, with BNP Secretary-General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir saying: “We think that if the election is fair and participatory, we will win 300 seats without a doubt.”
Over the past month, an additional 331 cases have been filed, with 4,000 individuals accused, further exacerbating the legal woes of BNP leaders. Notably, BNP Secretary-General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir faces 93 cases, while Joint Secretary-General Habib Un Nabi Khan Sohel is embroiled in 451 cases.
Several prominent BNP leaders, including Aman Ullah Aman, Mirza Abbas, and BNP Publicity Affairs Secretary Shahid Uddin Chowdhury Annie, anticipate swift legal proceedings. Many of these cases involve past allegations that have been resurrected.
The pace of trials for cases dating from 2013-2015 has accelerated, with several nearing their conclusion. The BNP general secretary, standing committee members, mid-level leaders, and youth leaders are implicated in these political cases.
In recent developments, Dhaka courts have formally charged 68 individuals, including Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, Shimul Biswas, and Shama Obaid, in connection with two recent cases of violence.
Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, a member of the BNP Standing Committee, pointed out that thousands of unknown individuals are listed as accused in these cases.
Roy said: “Earlier, the police were used to suppress the opposition; now the courts are being used. But the government cannot weaken us in this process; we are ready for elections, but it must be a fair election, and that is why our main activity is the movement to bring down the government.”
BNP’s historical approach of replacing leaders facing legal troubles with family members in past elections is likely to be employed again in the upcoming polls. This strategy will be particularly prominent in the second and third phases of the 12th election.
While BNP leaders and activists remain engaged in demanding a non-partisan caretaker government, internal preparations for the parliamentary elections are quietly underway. BNP acting chairman Tarique Rahman has said that candidates must actively engage with constituents and participate in the electoral process to secure nominations.
A leader of the Swechasebak Dal said: “We have been told by the high command that the candidates will be selected in this election by giving priority to the activities of the field movement.”
Despite the legal challenges, BNP leaders are optimistic that fair elections will ultimately vindicate them.
BNP Secretary-General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said: “The cases filed against us will disappear. If the court is impartial, the cases are supposed to be dismissed. The plaintiffs in most of these cases are Awami League leaders and activists or members of law-and-order forces. International human rights organizations are aware of these cases.”
Source: Dhaka Tribune.