Ns News Online Desk: The BNP pledges farming subsidies and increasing the minimum wage for the country’s 4 million workers in the garments industry
A total of 18 candidates, including 11 from the BNP, have been disqualified from contesting the polls on grounds of ethics violations
DHAKA: Electioneering in Bangladesh is in full swing as two major contenders in the running announced their election manifestos earlier this week. The ruling Awami League (AL) declared its 21-point manifesto, which emphasizes economic growth, while its largest opponent, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), has promised to implement sweeping reforms to strengthen democracy and the rule of law and make Parliament and the judiciary more effective.
Bangladesh’s parliamentary elections are slated for Dec. 30.
AL’s pledges include a 10 percent gross domestic product (GDP) increase over the next five years and a more than 12 percent reduction in the poverty rate, which currently affects more than one-fifth of the country’s population. AL also promises to eradicate poverty by 2041 and create around 13 million jobs within five years. It also pledges equal wages for men and women and subsidies for farmers.
On the other hand, BNP’s promises include an 11 percent increase in the GDP within a specific time frame, a corruption investigation into the country’s pending mega projects, and 10 million jobs within five years. The BNP also pledges farming subsidies and increasing the minimum wage for the country’s 4 million workers in the garments industry.
The AL-led Moha Jot will compete against the BNP-led Jatio Oikya Front (JOF) in the upcoming elections, while the opposition Jatio Party (JP) is considered the country’s third most prominent political group in the country.
However, the Jamaat-e-Islami conservative movement is garnering an increasing supporter base despite its eradication as a political party by Bangladesh’s high court. Consequently, the BNP has had to nominate 22 of the former Jamaat-e-Islami candidates to run in elections to ensure a supporter base of its own.
There was much uncertainty about comprehensive parliamentary elections since the BNP had demanded the dissolution of Parliament ahead of elections. The incarceration of the party’s head over graft charges also proved a big blow to the opposition group.
Khaleda Zia had filed nomination papers to compete in the election from prison, but lost all three appeals. The formation of the JOF proved a major breakthrough in the country’s election politics, while the AL has spared around 30 seats for the JP. Since the nine-year rule of Gen. Hussain Mohammad Ershad’s government came to an end in 1991, the BNP and AL have each led the country thrice.
This year, AL is seeking power for the third consecutive term since its landslide victory in 2008 (despite the BNP boycotting the election in 2014 over allegations of voter fraud).
A total of 18 candidates, including 11 from the BNP, have been disqualified from contesting the polls on grounds of ethics violations. Among the 300 constituencies, there are at least 10 in which heavyweight candidates from major alliances are vying against each other.
The AL’s second-in-command and the country’s de facto communications minister, Obaidul Kader, is competing from his hometown of Noakhali, while Mirza Fakhrul Islam, the BNP’s second-in-command and its secretary-general, is competing from his hometown of Thakurgaon.
In Dhaka, three heavyweight candidates are competing against each other.
Ershad, the country’s former president and JP chairman, is up against JOF candidate Andaliv Partha, while the ruling AL has nominated former popular film star Akbar Hossain Faruk to compete for the seat. Meanwhile, candidates from two family conglomerates, Beximco and Jamuna, are also vying for power in the country’s parliament. Salman Rahman, co-founder of Beximco, who is also an advisor to the prime minister, is competing for the first time through the AL against Salma Islam, wife of Jamuna Group chairman Nurul Islam.