If BNP does not join the elections to the five city corporations, then there remains uncertainty as to who will ruling Awami League's main contenders be in these polls. Other than the main opposition in parliament, Jatiya Party (JaPa) and Islami Andolan, most religion-based parties have little interest in this election. Four Islamic parties are still undecided whether they will join the fray or not.
The elections to the five city corporations are taking place in May and June. According to the election commission schedule, the Gazipur city corporation election will take place on 25 May. The Khulna and Barishal city corporation polls will be held on 12 June, and the Rajshahi and Sylhet city polls on 21 June. Awami League has already completed selling the nomination forms and the forms have been submitted too. In the five cities, 41 candidates from the party have submitted forms for the post of mayor.
Speaking to certain leaders of Jatiya Party, it was learnt that while it is certain that JaPa will take part in the city corporation elections, it has not been finalised as yet as to whether they will take part in the polls to all five of these cities. The party hasn't even completed the candidate nomination process. The leaders of the party say that for several reasons, the top JaPa leaders are not very eager about this election taking place just before the national election. However, they are joining just for the sake of showing their participation. The concerned leaders say that the party does not have leaders able of winning the post of mayor, not do they have the confidence that a fair election will be held.
JaPa sources say, other than in Khulna, their candidature in the four other city corporations are more or less certain. In Gazipur, the JaPa candidate is MM Niaz Uddin. He is the party's Gazipur city committee president. The other likely candidates are Sylhet city JaPa convener Nazrul Islam in Sylhet, city JaPa member secretary Iqbal Hossain in Barishal and city JaPa convener Saiful Islam in Rajshahi.
JaPa chairman GM Quader, speaking to Prothom Alo, said that they would take part in the polls. They will shortly begin the process of selecting possible candidates for the four cities.
Islami Andolan to pitch candidates in all 5 cities
Other than JaPa, Islami Andolan Bangladesh, led by the Charmonai pir, will pitch candidates in all five city corporations. In the Gazipur city corporation, it has already announced its candidate Gazi Ataur Rahman and has begun campaigning. Gazi Ataur Rahman is the party's senior joint secretary general. In Khulna, the candidate is the party's central naib-e-ameer Abdul Awal and in Barishal, Syed Muhammad Abdul Khair, who is younger brother of the party's ameer. Abdul Khair is the central students and youth affairs secretary of Islami Andolan. He used to be the chairman of the Charmonai union parishad (UP).
According to Islami Andolan sources, the candidate in Sylhet may be the party's divisional organising secretary Mahmudul Hasan. The candidate in Rajshahi may be last time's candidate, city president of the party, Shafiqul Islam. The concerned leaders say, after the nomination process is finalised, their names will be announced shortly.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, the Gazipur city corporation mayoral candidate from Islami Oikya Jote, Gazi Ataur Rahman, said, "The important factor is whether people will be able to vote. If they can, we hope for something good."
We have not even discussed the city corporation election among ourselves. Isn't that an indication of how little interested we are in the election?Jalaluddin Ahmad, Acting Secretary General, Bangladesh Khelafat Majlis
Islami Andolan also took part in the elections to the big city corporations in 2018, including Gazipur. Under the rule of the present government, this party has taken part in all local government elections, from the city corporations to the union parishad.
In the Rangpur city corporation election last year, the Islami Andolan candidate secured around 50,000 votes. The party was the nearest contender to the winning candidate from Jatiya Party.
Other religion-based parties lack interest
Speaking to leaders of religion-based parties, outside of Islami Andolan, it was found that the six religion-based parties registered with the election commission are not very interested in the city corporation polls. These parties are, Islami Oikya Jote (Hasanat Amini), Khelafat Majlis (Ahmad Abdul Kader), Bangladesh Khelafat Majlis (Ismail Noorpuri), Khelafat Andolan (Ataullah Hafezzi), Jamiate Ulema-e-Islam (Ziauddin), and Bangladesh Islami Front (Abdul Matin).
Chairman of Islami Front, Abdul Matin, told Prothom Alo they have no plans to participate in the elections to the five city corporations.
Meanwhile, Khelafat Majlis' secretary general Ahmad Abdul Kader, said that they had not taken any decision about the election as yet. Secretary general of Jamiate Ulema-e-Islam, Manjurul Islam Effendi said they have not prepared. And Bangladesh Khelafat Majlis' acting secretary general Jalaluddin Ahmad said, "We have not even discussed the city corporation election among ourselves. Isn't that an indication of how little interested we are in the election?"
If BNP remains firm in its stance, and if no one breaks away from the party to contest in the polls, then JaPa and Islami Andolan candidates will be Awami League's contenders in the fray
Among these religion based parties, Islami Oikya Jote had joined in the 2018 Gazipur city mayoral elections. It had also taken part in the various local government elections.
In the meantime, BNP has declared that they will not take part in the five city corporation polls being held on the eve of the national elections. As part of its movement for a non-party government, BNP has adopted a stance on not contesting in any elections under the present government.
Among the larger religion-based parties, Jamaat-e-Islami has also decided not to take part in any elections under the present government. Accordingly, it has announced that it will not contest in these elections to the five city corporations.
If BNP remains firm in its stance, and if no one breaks away from the party to contest in the polls, then JaPa and Islami Andolan candidates will be Awami League's contenders in the fray. Political analysts, however, say it is a matter to see if these contenders can come even anywhere near the ruling party in the contest.