The BNP led 18 party alliance boycotted the January 5 national election and the ruling party happily accepted the ‘victory’. The Awami League leaders, including the party chief Sheikh Hasina, since then have ridiculously claimed, repeatedly, that the election was fair. 44 days after that the BNP and Jamaat decidedly contested in the first phase of the fourth national upazila elections and blew the ruling party out of the water. The BNP and Jamaat backed chairman candidates won in two third of the contested areas.
The upazila election results show, among other things, an interesting resurgence of the popularity of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami. The mainstream media have been relentless in demonizing the Jamaat. The widely accepted perception within the elite class is that the Jamaat is universally hated by the citizens of Bangladesh and no one can possibly support it. This narrative has certainly been challenged by these results. At the same time the BNP has triumphantly returned to the political stage officially after losing its formal opposition status.
The Awami League backed candidates have won in one third of the contested upazilas. In the first phase polls were held in 97 upazilas. The ruling party won in 35 upazilas. The BNP won in 43 and the Jamaat in 13 upazilas. Together the BNP and the Jamaat won in a total of 56 upazilas, which is 21 more than the Awami League. The Jatiya Party, which was the main alliance of the ruling party in joining the controversial national election, won in one upazila. The 13 other parties of the grand alliance led by the Awami League, such as the Workers’ Party and Jatiya Shomajtantrik Dal, did not win anywhere.
In the previous upazila elections held in 2009 Awami League backed candidates won in 66 upazilas among 96 total upazilas in which elections were held. Awami League landed a sweeping victory leaving only 14 wins for the BNP and 8 for the Jamaat.
The results that have emerged from the elections on Wednesday perfectly reversed the results of 2009. Many analyses of these results have been offered. They don’t vary greatly in fact. The emphasis has been given on the lack of organization in Awami League.