EC shuts door on dozens of heavyweights in race for parliament

The returning officers across Bangladesh announced the names of the disqualified candidates after screening the nomination papers on Sunday.

A total of 3,065 candidates nominated by 39 registered political parties and independent ones had filed nominations before the Nov 28 deadline.

The Election Commission has rejected 786 nomination papers and cleared the 2,279 others.

The candidates whose nominations have been rejected can appeal against the returning officers’ decisions until Dec 5.

The commission will dispose of the appeals within Dec 8 and the deadline for nomination withdrawal is Dec 9, after which the returning officers will allocate symbols and the candidates can start the campaign for the Dec 30 election.

The BNP had nominated Khaleda, who is serving a total of 17 years in jail in two corruption cases, for Feni-1, Bogura-6 and Bogura-7 constituencies.

The returning officers rejected all three of her nominations as the High Court said in a recent verdict that no-one sentenced to more than two years can contest in elections even if his or her appeal against the sentence remains pending.

Fearing the rejections due to cases and other reasons, the BNP has already nominated more than one candidate for most seats.

Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam will be the BNP candidate for Bogura-6 and Rafiqul Islam Mojnu, a Juba Dal leader, for Feni-1 in Khaleda’s stead.

For Bogura-7, the returning officer disqualified both Khaleda and her alternative BNP nominee Morshed Milton, which means the party has no candidate there now.

BNP officials said they will challenge the rejections with the EC, claiming the commission’s decision on Khaleda’s nomination was part “of the government’s plans”.

The government targeted popular BNP leaders along with Khaleda to have their nominations cancelled in order to confirm victory in the election, the party’s Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said.

Liberal Democratic Party chief Oli Ahmed, the chief coordinator of the BNP-led 20-Party Alliance, expressed doubt about their contesting in the election in the long run after 80 of its candidates were disqualified.

The BNP has also written to the EC to complain that the applications of seven of the nominees for Manikganj have been rejected for dissimilarities of the signatures of its Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir even though he had signed the papers.

“I inform you, with grave concern, that the Manikganj deputy commissioner is not accepting my signatures on the applications for the BNP candidates, which is unacceptable,” Mirza Fakhrul said in the letters sent to the EC.

The Awami League has praised the EC decision on Khaleda’s candidacy. It has proved that “the playing field is level and all are equal in the eyes of the law”, the ruling party says.

Jatiya Party Secretary General ABM Ruhul Amin Howlader MP’s candidacy for Patuakhali-1 and Krishak Sramik Janata League chief Abdul Kader Siddique for two Tangail seats have also been revoked because of default loans.

Former Dhaka mayor BNP leader Sadeque Hossain Khoka’s son Ishrak Hossain’s nomination for Dhaka-6 constituency was rejected for the same reason.

Besides default loans, BNP leader Mirza Abbas’ wife and Jatiyatabadi Mohila Dal chief Afroza Abbas has unpaid phone bills. She was the party’s nominee for Dhaka-9 seat.

Khaleda’s Adviser Amanullah Aman cannot run for Dhaka-2 for his 10-year prison sentence in a corruption case.

His son Erfan Ibn Aman Omi, however, has retained his candidacy for the seat consisted of Keraniganj and Kamrangirchar areas as the BNP nominee.

Former BNP leader Nazmul Huda wanted to run for Dhaka-17, but the EC torpedoed his attempt as he has neither mentioned any party nor has he specified whether he wishes to run as an independent candidate.

The candidacy of Ganajagaran Mancha’s Imran H Sarker for Kurhigram-4 has been cancelled due to errors in the part of the nomination papers that is for support of mandatory 1 percent voters.

The returning officer declared invalid the nomination of Reza Kibria, the son of slain ex-minister of the Awami League government Shah AMS Kibria, for Habiganj-3 seat.

Reza was hoping to fight as a candidate of the Gono Forum, but the returning officer found unpaid credit card loans in his nomination paper.

Amatul Kibria Keya Chowdhury, an Awami League MP from the seats reserved for women, wanted the party’s ticket for the same seat, but failed to manage it.

She finally submitted the nomination papers as an independent candidate, but now it has also been cancelled because of a signature missing on her affidavit.

Due to the same reason, former Awami League MP Golam Maula Rony’s candidacy for Patuakhali-3 seat as a BNP candidate this time has been rejected.

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