The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its allies remained firm in their decision not to participate in any elections under the Awami League government, as they did not field any candidate for the first phase of upazila pairshad elections.

Monday was the last day to file nomination papers for the first phase of the polls, slated for May 8 in 150 upazilas.

Ashok said that a total of 724 aspirants for the vice-chairman posts and 470 aspirants for reserve seat vice-chairman posts for women filed nomination papers.

The ruling Awami League is contesting the polls without the party’s electoral symbol.

It has paved the way for many party leaders to contest in the polls, similar to the January 7 general election, when the party allowed ‘dummy’ candidates against the party’s official candidates to ensure the polls became a kind of participatory amid the boycott of most opposition parties, including BNP.

The BNP standing committee, in a meeting in March, discussed the issue of participating in the upazila parishad elections amid pressure from some grassroots leaders who wanted to join the polls.

But the party kept the issue pending for the next meeting, which was yet to take place.

Against the backdrop, BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said at a press conference at the party’s Naya Paltan central office on Monday that the party was firm in its decision to boycott upazila elections.

‘Our previous decision [of not participating in any elections under AL] remains in place,’ he said.

In response to a question from the journalists, Rizvi said, ‘We are saying that the elections will not be fair under this government. Our decision so far is that we will not go to any elections under Sheikh Hasina. Because no elections were ever free and fair under her.’

‘We have already taken that decision. BNP still stands by that decision,’ he added.

About the alliance position, Ganatantra Mancha leader and Revolutionary Workers Party general secretary Saiful Huq told New Age that the parties, who participated in the simultaneous movement against the AL, would not participate in any election under the AL government.

He said that if any leader of any movement-partner parties took part in the polls, the decision would be taken against the person later.

According to the announced schedule, polling will be held in 150 upazilas in the first phase on May 8, in the second phase on May 23, in the third phase on May 29, and in the fourth phase on June 5.

In February, AL announced that it would not nominate any official party candidate in the upazila elections and that no one would get the AL electoral symbol.