The BNP's strategy of fielding multiple candidates in almost every constituency has worked effectively. Otherwise, the party would not have any candidates in a large number of seats, say senior party leaders.
The party nominated 696 aspirants in 295 constituencies for the parliamentary polls. It had a single candidate each in only 36 seats, while more than one in the rest.
BNP policymakers feared many nomination papers could be rejected during the scrutiny by returning officers on various grounds.
The apprehension came true as the party saw as many as 141 nomination papers rejected and it does not have any candidate in six seats -- Bogura-7, Jamalpur-4, Rangpur-5, Manikganj- 2, Dhaka-1 and Shariatpur-1.
The party now has a single candidate each in 88 seats after at least one nomination paper in almost each of the seats was rejected.
It has two candidates in each of another 151 constituencies and three to four in each of 48 seats.
One out of the two nomination papers each in 39 constituencies was found valid. In each of 11 constituencies, one out of three nomination papers was okay.
One out of four papers in each of two seats was accepted.
The BNP would have witnessed no candidate in many more constituencies in addition to the six had it not fielded multiple candidates, party leaders told The Daily Star yesterday.
"Our strategy has been proved effective," said Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman, a member of BNP standing committee.
Abdul Awal Mintoo, vice chairman of the BNP, said the party has joined the electoral race though none of its demands, including release of party chief Khaleda Zia and dissolution of parliament, was met by the government.
"We feared that the government would create many obstacles, like influencing the Election Commission to cancel nomination papers of our candidates to keep us away from the election," he said in defence of fielding multiple candidates. "Our strategy worked very well.”
Barkatullah Bulu, vice-chairman of the party, echoed the same.
The party finalised candidates in 88 seats, where only one nomination paper each has been accepted, as the party does not have any alternatives there, party insiders said.
It is working to pick a single contestant for each of the remaining 142 seats where multiple candidates were declared valid following the scrutiny.
Having valid candidates in all the constituencies appeared as one of the major challenges for the party high-command. After the scrutiny, its leaders think the next hurdle is to stay in the race till the polling day.
The party is also worried as to whether their candidates will be able to conduct electioneering freely.
"Even after the announcement of the election schedule, police keep arresting our leaders and activists. In such a situation, we fear our candidates may face police harassment during the campaigns as most of them have been made accused in a large number of cases," said Ruhul Quddus Talukder, organising secretary of BNP.
"This is why, we keep demanding that the Election Commission take necessary steps to stop police harassment and ensure equal opportunity for all candidates during electioneering," he said.
SEAT-SHARING WITH PARTNERS
The BNP has decided in principle to leave 60 to 70 seats for partners in the 20-party alliance and Jatiya Oikyafront, said insiders.
The party has already nominated so far 20 Jamaat-e-Islami leaders to contest the election with its symbol “sheaf of paddy” and their nomination papers were accepted by the ROs, they added.
The party may leave the highest number of seats for Liberal Democratic Party after Jamaat among other allies of the 20-party combine. The seat-sharing will be finalised in a couple of days, sources claimed.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Monday held meetings with the leaders of Jatiya Oikyafront to settle the issue.
The Gonoforum gave a list of 23 seats to the BNP.
The BNP agreed to leave five seats for Gonoforum -- Dhaka-6 for Subrata Chowdhury, Habiganj-1 for Reza Kibria, Dhaka-7 for Mostafa Mohsin, Moulvibazar-2 for Sultan Mohammad Monsur and Dhaka-18 for another leader whose name could not be known yet.
The party decided in principle to leave four seats for Nagorik Oikya-led by Mahmudur Rahman Manna and four for Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Rab). A faction of Bikalpadhara Bangladesh that joined the Oikyafront may be given one seat.