BNP on Monday began selling nomination forms to aspirants of next Parliament amid huge festivity.
On the 1st day, nomination forms of three constituencies, Feni 1, Bogura 6 and Bogura 7 were sold at BNP central office at Naya Paltan.
At 10.45 AM, on behalf of jailed former prime minister and BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam bought a nomination form for Feni-1 creating a huge euphoria among thousands of party men who gathered there.
Locals said that the BNP office hummed with activities after a break of 10 years.
Almost immediately, on Khaleda’s behalf, BNP standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan bought a nomination form for the Bogura- 6 constituency.
A nomination form for the Bogura 7 constituency was bought on her behalf shortly afterwards by BNP standing committee member Mirza Abbas.
In the 2008 general election, Khaleda Zia had returned from five constituencies including Feni 1, Bogura 6 and Bogura 7.
Mirza Fakhrul himself was the next to buy a nomination form for Thakurgaon 1 for himself.
He bought his nomination form from senior BNP joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, who is coordinating the sale.
Turning to waiting reporters, Fakhrul said that BNP decided to join the election as part of their movement for restoring democracy and freeing Khaleda Zia.
‘We want an end to the autocratic rule and restore democratic norms in the country through the election,’ he said.
Fakhrul said that BNP might review its decision to join the election if an atmosphere conducive for free and fair elections was not created and the arrest of party leaders and activists did not stop.
‘The country lacks the minimum election atmosphere. Our leaders and activists are being arrested continuously,’ he said.
For selling nomination forms, BNP opened separate booths for eight divisions on the 2nd, 4th and the 5th floors at the party’s central office.
Hundreds of aspirants stood on queues from 9 AM to 5 PM to buy nomination forms at Tk 5,000 with an additional non-refundable deposit of Tk 25,000.
They reached the party office leading procession to the beat of drums from all corners of the country.
BNP said that it would continue selling nomination forms until Friday.
It said that the aspirants would be able to drop the nomination papers until Friday.
Thousands of BNP leaders and activists gathered in front of the party office since the morning chanting slogans demanding release of Khaleda Zia.
Aspirants brought hundreds of supporters to demonstrate their strength.
The road in front of BNP office was off limits to traffic from the Nightingale Crossing to the Fakirapool Intersection.
Heavy police contingents was deployed in riot gear near the BNP office round the clock.
Many aspirants and their supporters told New Age that the decision to participate in the election made them happy and pledged to utilize the election to free Khaleda Zia and restore democracy.
Followers bought nomination forms for many aspirants in jail custody in politically motivated cases, said party leaders.
Nangalkot BNP secretary Nurul Afsar Nayon was seen collecting nomination form for Mobashwer Alam Bhuyan, in jail custody in a vexatious case.
None would ever defeat Mobashwer in Cumilla 10 constituency, Nayon said.
Abdul Aziz, Gurudaspur upazila chairman and BNP president collected nomination form of Natore 4 for himself.
He told New Age that he and his followers were happy to see the jubilant BNP office after a long gap.
Expecting to secure party nomination, Aziz said, ‘I’ve taken this election as a challenge for restoring democracy.’
BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said the aspirant candidates of BNP collected the nomination forms in festive mood.
He said a total of 1,326 nomination forms were sold on the 1st day.
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