Bangladesh set for poll campaign
Dhaka, Dec. 10 (PTI): Political parties in Bangladesh will begin campaigning on Tuesday for the December 30 general election with the main opposition BNP crippled as its leader and ex-premier Khaleda Zia remains in jail for corruption.
The election commission (EC) is expected to complete allocation of symbols for the parties on Monday evening.
“The poll symbols are being distributed today so the candidates and their supporters can launch the campaign from tomorrow until December 28 midnight – the timeline set by the commission,” an EC spokesman said.
He said the commission simultaneously issued directives for executive magistrates and law enforcement agencies to stay alert to prevent any untoward situation during campaigning while the army would be later deployed to aid the civil administration.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling Awami League and several of its allies in the incumbent grand alliance government are contesting the polls on the party’s traditional ‘boat’ symbol across 300 constituencies, while the BNP – the main opposition outside parliament – is represented by its ‘paddy’ symbol.
Hasina would begin campaigning for her party from the southwestern Tungipara sub-district, which is the birthplace and location of the shrine of her father and Bangladesh’s founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who was assassinated in a 1975 coup along with most of his family members.
Hasina will contest polls from Tungipara while she is set to travel across Bangladesh to rally support for candidates of her party and alliance partners which includes former president H M Ershad.
Arch rival BNP is set to launch its campaign later on Monday evening in the absence of party chairperson Zia and her son and ‘fugitive’ acting chief Tarique Rahman.
Zia, 73, is currently serving a 10-year prison term in two graft cases while the High Court is set to decide on Tuesday whether she would be able to contest the polls as the election commission earlier scrapped her candidacy as she had been convicted.
Rahman is now living in London ostensibly to evade the law after a court sentenced him to life imprisonment for masterminding a grenade attack in 2004 that killed 24 Awami League leaders and activists.
The absence of the two top Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)leaders has pushed the party into a state of disarray.
The BNP had boycotted the 2014 polls as the then Awami League government declined to accept its demand to let a non-party administration oversee the election, and it emerged as the main opposition party outside parliament.
Analysts say political and legal considerations have forced the BNP to take part in the upcoming polls as it could lose its registration with the EC as a political party if it boycotted polls for the second consecutive time even as it faces structural erosion from within.
The BNP recently joined the new opposition alliance National Unity Front (NUF) under the leadership of eminent jurist Kamal Hossain.