12:00 AM, December 12, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:12 AM, December 12, 2018

Independent Aspirants: Dec 30 polls see lowest number

The number of independent candidates in any parliamentary election has hit the lowest this year since 1991.

Only 96 independent candidates are up for contesting the December 30 polls nationwide.

The last election in 2014 had 104 independent candidates for 147 seats.

In the 2008 and 2001 polls, the number of independent candidates were 151 and 486 respectively. In 1996 and 1991, the numbers were 284 and 214.

Election Commission officials said one of the reasons for the decreasing number of independent candidates could be the Representation of the People Order.

The provision required individual candidates to submit signatures of one percent of the total voters of their constituencies along with their applications for candidacies in the 2008 polls, the EC officials said.

Election Commissioner Rafiqul Islam told The Daily Star, "The number of independent candidates decreased due to the participation of all the 39 registered political parties in the election."

Many of the parties enlisted multiple candidates from different constituencies during their primary selection. This could be a reason there are fewer independent candidates in the polls, he added.

When the parties picked their final candidates, candidatures of the rest were automatically ceased in line with law, the election commissioner said.

Political parties, including the Awami League and the BNP, tricked their candidates by filing multiple nominations primarily to drop the rebel candidates in the electoral race.

According to the EC, the BNP primarily nominated 696 leaders for 295 constituencies while AL picked 281 leaders for 264 seats.

Besides, 486 independent candidates submitted nomination papers.

On December 9, the last day for withdrawal of candidature, the BNP finally kept 240 candidates and the AL kept 258, leaving other seats for alliances.

Former Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) M Shakhawat Hossain said political parties issued warnings to many individual candidates to withdraw their candidacy this year.

Non partisan individuals' lack of interest, overall expenditure and use of muscle power were some of the reasons for the decreasing number of individual participants in the polls, he said.

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