The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has missed the ‘electoral train’ this time, and now the party will have to wait till the next general elections in 2029 if it wants to assume power.
Although the BNP joined the 2018 elections, the party did not take part in the 2014 elections. The 10th parliamentary election was held on January 5 in 2014 and the BNP-led 18-party alliance had boycotted that poll, allowing the Awami League to win the 2014 elections with a two-thirds majority.
The deadline for the submission of nomination papers for the 12th parliamentary elections, scheduled for January 7 in 2024, ended on November 30 (Thursday).
BNP did not take part in the process as the party is in the movement to realize its one-point demand-- Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s resignation and restoration of the caretaker government.
The government has, however, rejected the BNP’s demand and the ruling Awami League and many other parties are participating in the upcoming elections.
The Awami League, Jatiya Party and many other parties are already in the election race, while BNP and some of its allies are in movement. The BNP has, however, announced that it will enforce another 48-hour countrywide blockade from tomorrow (Sunday) as part of its movement for restoration of the caretaker government before the upcoming national elections.
The Election Commissioners, including Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) had said on several occasions that the Election Commission (EC) will consider rescheduling the 12th national elections if BNP decides to join the polls.The election commissioners had said they have time to push back the election date by five to seven days, as the five-year term of the 11th parliament will end on January 29.
On November 15, the EC announced the polls schedule, stating that the 12th parliamentary elections will be held on January 7.The last date for submission of nomination papers was November 30, while the nominations will be scrutinised December 1-4 and the last date for candidature withdrawal is December 17.
Soon after the EC announced the polls schedule, BNP and several other opposition parties rejected it, and called for nationwide hartals and blockades.
The EC has taken all-out preparations to hold the January 7 polls, while the ruling Awami League and many other parties have also taken all-out preparations for the election-race.
Just before the end of the submission of nomination papers, Election Commissioner MdAlamgir said that the commission has taken all kinds of preparations to hold free and fair elections. Voter lists and polling stations have been prepared while election equipment has also been arranged for holding the polls.
Election Commissioner Rashida Sultana said that the environment for holding the 12th parliamentary elections is fully prepared.
Meanwhile, the ruling party leaders have criticised the BNP for not joining polls, saying that the BNP has missed the election train.
Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader has said the train of the 12th parliamentary elections is already running, and it won’t stop until it reaches its destination, no matter how many obstacles are there.
He made the remarks during a press briefing at the Awami League President’s political office in Dhanmondi in the capital on Friday.
“Although BNP is not participating in the elections as a party, the party’s 30 former MPs, including 15 central leaders of the party, are taking part in the elections. After a long time, a festive atmosphere is prevailing across the country. It is not about whether one or two parties are taking part in the elections; now it is more about the people’s participation,” said ObaidulQuader.
The AL general secretary criticisedShushashonerJonnoNagorik (Shujan) and TIB for their silence on ‘violence committed by BNP in the name of the movement’.
“Neither the TIB nor Shujan has said anything about the violence and terrorism that BNP is unleashing in the country in the name of the movement. But they talk about democracy and human rights,” he said.
ObaidulQuader, who is also road transport and bridges minister, said, “In many countries, including Europe, Africa, and Latin America, elections are held in the absence of opposition parties. No one thinks these elections are illegal!”
“No one can say that elections will be illegal just because one or two parties won’t participate, where people's participation is ensured,” he added.
Regarding the Awami League leaders who are submitting nomination papers as independent candidates, ObaidulQuader said, “It is not that everyone is participating in the election as independent candidates. We will monitor the development until December 16.”
Information and Broadcasting Minister and Awami League Joint General Secretary Dr Hasan Mahmud said that the ‘train of upcoming election’ will not wait for anyone and the polls will be held on time.
“BNP wants to foil the election process. They failed in 2014. The people will resist them with an iron hand if they try to foil the next elections as most of the countrymen support Awami League,” he said.