AL eyes positive results in UZ polls

UNB, Dhaka :
The announcement of schedules for the staggered upazila parishad elections came as a relief for the ruling Awami League as this will keep away its arch political rival BNP from going for any further movement for fresh polls following the much-talked-about January 5 national election.
This year the elections to nearly 480 out of the 487 upazila parishads of the country will be held in six phases by June next.
The first phase elections to 98 upazila parishads will be held on February 19, while the second phase polls in 117 upazila parishads on February 27.
This was announced by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad on January 19.
Soon after the announcement of the election schedules, aspirant candidates from both Awami League and BNP jumped on their respective campaign wagons along with other candidates to win the hearts of voters.
As a result, the highly tense situation that was prevailing in the country after the 10th parliamentary elections eased to a great extent.
Meanwhile, from a press conference on February 4, the BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia again urged the government to initiate dialogue to find a way out of the political stalemate. “We’ll not continue to call for the dialogue forever. We’ll wait for a certain period and then we’ll start our movement.”
In the subsequent question and answer session she rarely allows, Khaleda’s attention was drawn about their position not to participate in any polls under the incumbent Election Commission and she was asked why many leaders and activists of the 19-party alliance are taking part in the upazila elections.
In reply, the BNP chairperson said this is local government election where anyone can participate. “Earlier, we mentioned (our stand) about the election which changes the government.”
On January 15, from a press briefing, Khaleda Zia urged the government to reach a consensus through resuming dialogue to resolve the ongoing political impasse. She vowed to continue the anti-government movement peacefully. “We were never against dialogue. Talks are the only way to reach a consensus,” she had said.
But, after that, BNP and its allies did not succeed in marshalling any strong agitation programme that was seen in the pre-polls days where a considerable number of people were killed and injured or burnt.
Even after the January 5 election, the anti-government agitators were seen in action in some parts of the country.
With the announcement of schedules for upazila parishad elections, the stance of the BNP and its alliance partners were seen more flexible as their grassroots candidates decided to engage in the election.
The BNP also declared that their party men will take part in the upazila parishad elections.
“The announcement of upazila parishad elections was a relief for the ruling party as the whole country, especially the rural areas, was immediately caught by election fever that was absent in the January 5 general election,” a front line leader of Awami League, wishing anonymity, told UNB.