The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has announced a series of protest rallies, alleging massive irregularities in the just-concluded Chattogram City Corporation election and municipality elections across the country held earlier.
BNP leaders who contested for the post of mayor in the last six mega city corporation elections made the announcement at a press conference at the National Press Club on Friday afternoon.
BNP central leader Mujibur Rahman Sarwar who once vied for the post of mayor of Barishal City Corporation on the party ticket said the protest programme would begin on 13 February through a rally in Chattogram.
Similarly, rallies will be held in Barishal on 18 February and in Khulna on 27 February to demonstrate against vote rigging.
The party will hold a rally in Rajshahi on the first day of March. It will host two more rallies in Dhaka North on 3 March and in the south on 4 March.
BNP-nominated mayoral candidates and local leaders in various city corporation elections will lead these programmes, demanding reinstatement of the caretaker government system and free and fair elections, said the party leaders at the press conference.
In this regard, former mayor of Rajshahi City Corporation Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul told The Business Standard that the BNP secretary general would be present at the two rallies in Dhaka while other standing committee members will lead the rest of the rallies with local leaders.
He said the party has decided to conduct rallies through local representatives in order to increase public participation which will reduce the distance between the party and the people.
BNP mayoral candidate Dr Shahadat Hossain who took part in the recently concluded Chattogram City Corporation election told the press conference that the election experience was very bitter.
"Here both vote theft and robbery take place. This cannot be allowed to continue. This is our struggle to bring back democracy through street movement that will start from the port city," he added.
Engineer Ishraque Hossain, who contested the post of mayor in the last Dhaka South City Corporation election, said the Electronic Voting Machine and Election Commission are all bogus.
The country is not being run by politicians, rather it is being run by mafias, and so everyone must stand up against this, he added.
Complaining that the people of Dhaka are not getting their expected services from the current mayors, former mayoral candidate of Dhaka north Tabith Awal said people are being deprived of the right to vote, and on the other hand, they are not getting much from the incumbent mayors.
Asked whether the BNP would take part in the next local government elections, the BNP leaders said it is a matter for the party to decide.
"We have protested against the irregularities in the recently concluded port city and local government elections," he added.
Asked what the party wants to achieve through the protest rallies, BNP central leader Mujibur Rahman Sarwar said, "We will involve people in protesting against the government misdeeds through these programmes."
Former Khulna City Corporation mayoral candidate Nazrul Islam Monju could not attend the press conference due to family concerns, BNP sources said.