Registration row, shrinking political space worry parties

Rashed Ahmed Mitul and Ahammad Foyez | Published: 23:39, Sep 02,2018 | Updated: 00:22, Sep 03,2018

 
 

Political parties, which boycotted the last general election, are unhappy as they find a level-playing field still elusive while some are concerned about their registration status, with the 11th parliamentary elections only three months away.
Demanding restoration of the caretaker government system, 28 out of 40 registered parties had boycotted the January 5, 2014’s general election, rendering it controversial.
Nine out of the 28 parties which boycotted the polls are partners of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance.
The parties find that the environment for a participatory election is utterly lacking while the fate of small parties within the BNP-led alliance hinges on the decision of main opposition’s participation in next general election.
Tension mounts in the BNP-led quarter as the party is yet to make any clear-cut decision on joining the next general election and keeps mum about seat shearing with partners.
The EC had announced that it would hold the general election in the last week December.
Smaller parties consider registrations as their ‘life lines’, a senior leader of a small party, which had boycotted the last general election, told New Age.
According to Section 90(H) of the Representation of the People Order 1972, political parties’ registrations can be cancelled if they stay away from parliamentary elections for two consecutive times.
Political parties are keen to save their registrations as the EC has made registration of new parties difficult.
The point is highlighted by the fact that the applications of 76 political parties to get themselves registered were rejected by the EC in May.
However, most parties out of fold the BNP-led alliance say that they have a sort of concern about registration but are not worried as they think that the government and Election Commission should ensure an environment for participatory elections.
Communist Party of Bangladesh president Mujahidul Islam Selim alleges that the government is using Section 9(H) of the RPO as a weapon to control the political parties.
He says that the CPB smells a conspiracy hatched by ruling AL and the government, led by it, using the registration issue.
He, however, says that the CPB is not worried about registration although it had boycotted the last general election.
Socialist Party of Bangladesh president Khalikuzzaman says that his party is yet make any decision on participating in the next poll as the level-playing field is still absent.
Echoing Mujahidul Islam Selim, he says that his party is not worried about registration as he finds no justification for such registration if a party cannot work for people.
Gana Forum executive president Subrata Chowdhury says that his party will never join the next polls if it is not a participatory one.
‘There is an option of legal fight if my party loses registration but there is no scope to join a staged election,’ he told New Age.
Syed Muhammad Ibrahim, chairman of Bangladesh Kalyan Party, a partner of BNP-led alliance, observes that losing registration has become a matter of concern.
Smaller political parties like Kalyan Party, he says, lack the strength to withstand the pressure.
Smaller political parties under the umbrella of BNP are in a dilemma whether they will participate in or boycott the coming general election as the partners have not yet got any clear guidance from BNP on the issue.
BNP policymakers publicly stated time and again that BNP would not participate in the election keeping their party chairperson Khaleda Zia in jail.
Kamruzzaman Khan, president of registered party Bangladesh Muslim League, expresses his determination that they will do everything necessary to save the party registration.
Bangladesh National Awami Party secretary general Golam Mostafa Bhuiyan and Khelafat Majlish secretary general Ahmed Abdul Kader say it is natural for the smaller parties to have fears about losing their registration.
Many partners in the BNP-led alliance are ready to lose registration for the sake of national interest and national unity for restoration of democracy, they say.
About seat sharing with partners, BNP standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan, also the alliance coordinator, told New Age that they were busy with movement for the release of their imprisoned chairperson Khaleda Zia.
On its own registration status, BNP leader Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain says that BNP is not worried about registration as they are preparing to launch an all-out movement for securing the release of former prime minister and BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia to ensure participatory elections under a neutral government.
He says that BNP will try to persuade other parties to join the movement against holding another one-sided general election by the ruling Awami League-led regime.
He hopes that the registered and unregistered parties that did not participated in the last controversial election will join the movement.
EC secretary Helaluddin Ahmed told New Age that EC had no intention to reject any party’s valid application for registration and was working to ensure equal space for all parties.
Only 11 registered parties in the AL-led alliance and Bangladesh Nationalist Front took part in the election held on January 5, 2014.

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