Asianbangla, Dhaka : The election result that put the BNP mayoral hopeful ahead of the Awami League contestant in the Sylhet city polls came as a “surprise” to the party high-ups as they had feared the ruling party would take away all the three mayoral posts through irregularities.
Some AL leaders, however, said the Sylhet result is frustrating and it gives a signal that BNP-Jamaat men infiltrated into the party and they might betray it in the national polls.
BNP leaders say Rajshahi and Barisal had long been their strongholds but they lost those to the AL. The vote margins proved that there were widespread “irregularities” in those two cities, they added.
As there were “irregularities” also in Sylhet, Ariful Haque Chowdhury’s taking the lead was unexpected to the party, insiders say.
“We thought that the government will take away all the mayoral posts. But it played a game in Sylhet. This election is a part of the government’s evil strategy. It was actually an attempt to show that a free and fair election is possible under this government,” said a joint secretary general BNP, wishing anonymity.
Sylhet polls, on the other hand, frustrated the top AL leaders.
“Those who have joined the Awami League from the BNP-Jamaat betrayed the party during the vote on Monday. So it’s a message for the party. They may do the same in the national polls,” said a senior leader of the party, wishing not to be named.
Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader welcomed Ariful Haque and came up with a different view.
“The BNP candidate won the Sylhet city polls due to our organisational weaknesses. Now we want to know if Ariful still wants re-election in the city,” he said at a press conference.
During the polling on Monday, Arif claimed that vote was rigged in 41 centres and he will reject the results whatever that may be. However, he later gladly accepted the result when it showed he was leading by a small margin, securing 90,496 votes while AL candidate Badruddin Ahmed Kamran got 85,870.
Polling at the city’s two centres, which have 4,787 voters listed, was suspended due to violence. Returning Officer Alimuzzaman referred the matter to the Election Commission headquarters in the capital.
The vote difference between Arif and Kamran was 4,626.
Some BNP leaders said the ruling party’s “miscalculation” is the reason behind the defeat of AL candidate.
The AL thought that the Jamaat candidate would get 25,000 to 30,000 votes but he secured only around 11,000.
“They [the AL] never expected that Jamaat would secure such a small number of votes. They indulged in massive irregularities in Sylhet but Jamaat’s results changed the game,” Goyeshwar Chandra Roy, party’s standing committee member, told The Daily Star.
DEMAND FOR RE-POLLING
Kamran yesterday filed a complaint with the EC alleging that the BNP men took control of 17 centres and demanded re-election in these centres.
On the other hand, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir during a press conference at the party’s Nayapaltan office rejected the election results of Barisal and Rajshahi city corporations and demanded re-election in the two cities.
The party will stage demonstrations in all the towns and metropolitan cities tomorrow to press home its demand.
About Sylhet polls, Fakhrul said their mayoral candidate could have won with a margin of over one lakh votes had the election been free and fair.
He also alleged that at least in 12 centres in Sylhet saw cent percent votes cast even though hundreds of people were in the queues outside.
Also yesterday, Obaidul Quader said people have rejected the BNP in the local body elections for its “negative politics”.
“Like the elections, people will also reject BNP’s movement,” Quader said while addressing the press conference, held at AL President Sheikh Hasina’s Dhanmondi political office in the capital.
Conveying his party’s formal reaction, Quader said BNP has staged a drama in the name of participating in the three city corporation elections.