Upazila polls: Concerns arise in BNP over mass expulsion

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The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has expelled 76 leaders in total in two phases for their participation in the upcoming elections into the upazila parishads violating the party decision.  

The expulsions developed a sense of concern among the BNP leaders and activists and they are now speculating the potential length of the list after all spells of the upazila polls, and its impact among the grassroots level activists. 

Even, there are concerns if the expulsions would weaken the party further, but the leadership has been steadfast on their decisions. 

The central leadership who are taking care of the party people joining the upazila polls anticipated that the number of expulsions may range between 200 and 250 after the last phase of the elections. 

According to the election commission, around 480 upazila parishads are going into election in four phases from 8 May to 5 June. The commission has already announced the election schedules for all phases. 

Meanwhile, the BNP expelled 73 leaders on Friday and three more on Saturday, for joining the polls. 

There are some leaders who pulled out of the electoral race following the first phase of expulsion. At least four leaders, who submitted nominations for the upazila polls, have written to the party headquarters, declaring that they will not contest in the elections, according to sources. 

Romana Ahmed, organising secretary of the BNP’s Meherpur district unit, became a candidate for the vice chairman position in the sadar upazila elections. While talking to Prothom Alo on Saturday, she admitted that she had written a letter to the central leadership disclosing her decision on pulling out of the election. 

She wrote, “I believe that the party’s decision is right against the current political backdrop. I am offering an apology for my unintentional mistake.”

List of expulsion getting lengthier 

It is believed that the list of expulsions may get lengthier in the coming days.

Some BNP leaders observed that there has been frustration among the grassroots leaders and activists, following the failure in the movement centering the 7 January elections. Some leaders even turned inactive in political activities. 

Against the backdrop, questions arose if such a large-scale expulsion would weaken the party further. 

However, Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, senior joint secretary general of BNP, ruled out the concerns, saying the expulsions would not put any impact on the party since its members are not numbered at merely 100 or 200. 

“Where they are contesting in the elections, there are some more leaders with similar stature and qualifications. Some leaders with an opportunist mindset are joining the elections for their personal gain. It has rather unmasked them before the nation,” he explained. 

The BNP leadership has taken a strict stance regarding the upazila elections, which came only four months after their boycott of the national polls. 

According to multiple BNP leaders, the policy-making body believes that there is no scope for a fair election under the current government. The reasons that hindered the BNP from joining the national polls are still relevant. Rather, the ruling party has consolidated its authoritarian power through the one-sided election.