Monday, December 29, 2008

Anti-Jamaat sentiment in BNP makes grand alliance stronger

Rajshahi Division
BNP candidates in a number of constituencies in Rajshahi division are unlikely to achieve any gains despite support of its key alliance partner Jamaat-e-Islami due to widening rift and anti-Jamaat sentiment in BNP.

Moreover, the vote tally of past elections and the raising demands for resisting war criminals suggest that Jamaat candidates in at least a dozen constituencies, out of total 18 seats where Jamaat-e-Islami has its nominees in the northern region, are likely to see their grand alliance contestants to be stronger. 

In three constituencies Chapainwabganj-3, Rajshahi-3 and Sirajganj-4, Jamaat rebellion may pave the way for grand alliance candidates who are also plagued by Awami League candidates' rebellion at some five constituencies Dinajpur-6, Nilphamari-4, Rangpur-4, 5 and Kurigram 4. Strong battle is expected between grand alliance and Jamaat nominees at Pabna-1 and 5 constituencies.

Taking advantage of the situations, grand alliance candidates are expecting to win a record number of seats in the 16 districts of the division where there are 72 seats in the Jatiya Sangsad.

Four-party alliance leader and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia is contesting from Bogra-6 and 7 constituencies while grand alliance's leader Sheikh Hasina will contest from Rangpur-6, Jatiya Party chairman HM Ershad from Rangpur-3 and Kurigram-2 and his wife Rawshan Ershad from Gaibandha-5 constituencies.

BNP's vital candidate Mizanur Rahman Minu at Rajshahi-2 is frustrated over his cold war with several party leaders. 

The split between Minu and another BNP candidate Kabir Hossain at Rajshahi-3 is an open secret. It is believed widely by many BNP workers that Minu had role behind Jamaat candidate Ataur Rahman's rebellion against Kabir at the latter's seat.

For Ataur's rebellion, Awami League candidate Miraj Uddin Mollah had chances at the constituency. On the other hand, Kabir followers' revenge against Minu can make the sail of grand alliance's Fazle Hossain Badsha over Minu easy at Rajshahi-2. 

Apart from the group of former BNP lawmaker Nadim Mustafa, Minu is also having some distance with the group of Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul who lacked Minu's support during his August 4 mayoral contest against city mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton.

The group of Nadim Mustafa who is now fleeing abroad being convicted in several corruption and extortion cases has remained silent even during the last-minute campaign for BNP candidate Nazrul Islam at Rajshahi-5. Nadim is annoyed as he failed getting his wife nominated by BNP. 

Many BNP men are frustrated over their political fate as in absence of jailed BNP deputy minister Ruhul Kuddus Talukdar Dulu, his wife Sabina Yasmin Chhobi was nominated at Natore-2 constituency. 

BNP candidate Enamul Haque at Rajshahi-1 is also facing a strong grouping over local BNP's politics centring his family. Enamul was nominated in absence of his brother Barrister Aminul Haque who is now abroad after being convicted in a militancy case. 

Some BNP nominees including Jatiya Sangsad speaker Barrister M Jamiruddin Sarker, Asadul Habib Dulu in Lalmonirhat-3, Shahjahan Mia of Chapainawabganj-1, Harunur Rashid in Chapainawabganj-3, Fazlur Rahman Patal in Natore-1, Kazi Golam Morshed in Natore-3, Mozammel Haque in Natore-4 and M Shokrana of Bogra are contesting amid similar problems.

However, although Rajshahi is a stronghold of BNP-Jamaat, the alliance is now facing an image crisis among the voters as a number of its party leaders are facing charges for graft and abetting militancy.

“The splits in party and above all, BNP's alliance with Jamaat are not tolerable to many party workers like me. If BNP were not allied with Jamaat, perhaps, we would not have to be known as militancy abettors”, said a BNP leader asking for anonymity.

“The BNP splits in Rajshahi region are more or less due to BNP leaders' loyalty to Jamaat-e Islami. BNP in many places lost supremacy since the fundamentalists' role”, said a BNP leader of Rajshahi-1 constituency who was able to avail BNP nomination this year.

He argued that Barrister Aminul Haque phoned from abroad to Jamaat-e Islami Ameer Matiur Rahman for leaving Rajshahi-1 constituency for his brother, not to any BNP leaders. The phone call was made while Nizami was on a visit to Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj, confirmed a Jamaat candidate at Chapainawabganj-3 Latifur Rahman.

Several BNP leaders at northern districts including Natore and Rajshahi echoed the anonymous BNP men. 

However, deputy speaker Akhtar Hamid Siddiki in Naogaon-3 and Mirza Fakrul Islam Alamgir at Thakurgaon-3, Jamaat Ameer Matiur Rahman Nizami at Pabna-1 and ABM Abdus Subhan Mia at Pabna-5 are likely to have strong fight with grand alliance candidates. 

AL's Asaduzzaman Noor is contesting with Jamaat's M Moniruzzaman at Nilphamari-2, Noor won the 2001 election by 2 percent votes without the support of Jatiya Party that bagged 22 percent votes.

Jamaat won Nilphamari-3 seat by over 5 percent votes in 2001, but this time JP's Kazi Faruk Quader is a stronger candidate with Awami League support.

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