Heavyweight aspirants including former prime minister and BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia have dropped out of the parliamentary election race due to convictions, default loans, unpaid bills and inconsistencies in their nomination papers.
Returning officers across the country announced the names of the disqualified candidates after scrutinizing the nomination papers on Sunday.
Of the total 3,065 aspirants selected by the 39 registered political parties and the independent ones filed their nominations before the November 28 deadline. On Sunday, returning officers cleared the names of 2,279 candidates and cancelled the nominations of 786 others.
Rejected candidates can appeal to the EC within December 5 and their appeals will be cleared within December 8. Nominated candidates can withdraw their candidature within December 9, after which symbols will be allocated and the candidates can start campaigning.
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. But the Election Commission rejected all three of it as the High Court said in a recent verdict that convicts sentenced to more than two years cannot contest in elections even if his or her appeal against the sentence remains pending.
BNP had feared rejections from the Election Commission and had already nominated more than one candidate for most seats. Instead of Khaleda Zia, Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam will be the BNP candidate for Bogura-6 and a Juba Dal leader Rafiqul Islam Mojnu for Feni-1.
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”.
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 Awami League has praised the EC decision on Khaleda’s candidacy, saying that it proves that there is level playing field and everyone is equal in the eyes of law.
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 rejected by the EC over 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.
BNP leader Mirza Abbas’ wife and Jatiyatabadi Mohila Dal chief Afroza Abbas’s nomination for Dhaka-9 was cancelled for unpaid phone bills.
Amanullah Aman, Khaleda Zia’s advisor, 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 cancelled his nomination as well because he did not mention any party not specified whether he wants to apply 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. He wanted to run for Habiganj-3 constituency but the returning officer cited 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 was denied. She submitted the nomination papers as an independent candidate but 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.
In Chattogram, the returning officers have rejected 41 of the 180 nomination papers submitted for 16 seats. Eleven of the rejected nominations were from BNP aspirants.
Giasuddin Quader Chowdhury, brother of the BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury who was hanged for war crimes, has lost candidacy for Chattogram-6 seat due to default loans.
Former minister M Morshed Khan and BNP leader Ershad Ullah cannot contest in the election for Chattogram-8 seat sue to default loans and having no bank account respectively.