Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of former prime minister Khaleda Zia led the first phase of a crucial local government election triumphing in 43 out of 97 sub-districts, as the polls came six weeks after the general elections in Bangladesh which the party had boycotted.
According to unofficial results, the BNP candidates won in the 43 sub-districts or upazila councils giving the party an unbeatable lead while the ruling Awami League won in 34 councils as the first round of voting for the local body polls was held Wednesday.
Several newspapers dubbed it a “high-voltage election” held in a peaceful manner, a month after Bangladesh witnessed its worst political violence during the general elections.
Candidates backed by BNP’s key ally fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami secured 13 upazilas, though the party was stripped off its registration with the election commission under a High Court judgement that disqualified it for polls.
Under the law, the elections in local government bodies including the upazilas are non-party polls but major parties field their candidates to test their popularity giving it a political colour.
Reports and witnesses said some stray incidents of violence marred the polls atmosphere at places but in most areas the polls were held peacefully while troops were deployed to handle any law and order situation.
In a dramatic shift, BNP, which had boycotted the general elections, fielded its candidates in the local body polls.
According to analysts, the results of the first phase upazila polls would give a boost to the winning camp in the next phases of the local body polls as elections in 117 upazilas would be held in the second phase on February 27, 83 upazilas in the third phase on March 15, and 92 upazilas in the fourth.
In the previous upazila elections in 2009, the Awam League-backed candidates won most of the seats.