Delimitation of constituencies has raised the number of Jatiya Sangsad seats in Rajshahi to six from five and changed areas of three of them, making local Awami League leaders hopeful of making a dent in BNP-Jamaat strongholds in the upcoming election.
BNP and BNP-Jamaat coalition candidates had bagged all the five JS seats in last three Jatiya Sangsad polls.
The new delimitation has divided vote banks of the alliance partners, political circles said.
However, increase in the number of constituencies has made grassroots activists of all parties happy. They think this would help create new leaders as there would be one more candidate from each party.
Following the delimitation, Paba upazila has been sliced off from Rajshahi-2, the area of former Rajshahi mayor Mizanur Rahman Minu. Rajshahi-2 now comprises only Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) areas.
Paba has been added to Rajshahi-3, which now comprises Paba and Mohonpur. BNP leader Abu Hena was elected from the seat in last election.
BNP leaders in Rajshahi-3 areas however disclaimed AL's observation, saying there will be balance in public support for both BNP and AL after the delimitation.
AL leaders claimed that will win the seat if a good party man is fielded.
Rajshahi-4 constituency now comprise only Bagmara upazila, which was under Rajshahi-3 earlier.
Rajshahi-5 now comprise Puthia and Durgapur upazilas while Rajshahi-6 consists of Bagha and Charghat upazilas.Rajshahi-1 remains unchanged with Godagari and Tanore upazilas.
Except Kabir Hossain, all other former BNP MPs elected from Rajshahi are now absent from their areas.
Aminul Islam and Nadim Mostafa are allegedly hiding while Minu is in jail. Abu Hena is abroad.
Talking to this correspondent, AL leaders said they are hopeful of bagging all the six constituencies if good party candidates are fielded as vote banks of their rival parties have been divided.
But some front ranking BNP leaders claimed that their strongholds are unaffected. The main problem is absence of leaders from their areas, they said.
Acting president of Rajshahi city AL Rafik Uddin said BNP's claim of their stronghold in Rajshahi proved to be false in August 4 Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) poll in which AL leader AHM Khairuzzaman Liton defeated BNP-Jamaat supported candidate Mossadek Hossain Bulbul.
City AL law secretary Aslam Sarker said, “As Rajshahi-2 now comprise only RCC areas, victory of an AL candidate will be easier than any candidate of any party of the 14-party alliance.
“Many unions under Paba upazila, including Haripur, Haragram, Damkura, Darsanpara, were always worries for us. Now they have been dropped from Rajshahi-2”, he explained.
Fazle Hossain Badsha of Workers' Party, Enamul Haque and Abdullah Al Masud Shibli of Communist Party of Bangladesh are among those who are seeking AL-led 14-party alliance nomination from this seat.
In Rajshahi-3, new faces from parties have started lobbying for nominations from this seat.
Names of Zinnatunnesa Talukhdar, a former state minister during Awami League government and BNP's central office secretary Ruhul Kabir Rizvi are heard as possible candidates from this seat.
District BNP president Azizur Rahman said he will not make any comment before his party decides whether it will participate in the election.
“We are in difficulties due to absence of our popular candidates. Yet we will do every thing possible to retain the seats we held in last three elections”, he said replying to questions.
In newly constituted Rajshahi-4 (Bagmara), senior politician Sardar Amjad Hossain is likely to get the 14-party combine's nomination.
Amjad loyalists say, he has a huge vote bank in the upazila because of his personal good image among local people. If AL vote bank is added to this, he has good chance to win.
Some local BNP leaders said they are thinking of former lawmaker Abu Hena for the seat (Rajshahi-4), but he is absent from the area for long. Abu Hena was expelled from BNP for his statement revealing BNP-Jamaat support behind Islamist militants.