Friday, December 26, 2008

Feud worries grand alliance in greater Rajshahi

Clockwise: Abdul Jalil, Fazle Hossain Badsha, Mizanur Rahman Minu, Abdul Wadud, Enamul Haque, Fazlur Rahman Patal and Sardar Amjad Hossain.

Intra-party rivalry over nomination among Awami League (AL) leaders and lack of AL leaders' cooperation to grand alliance nominees from Workers' Party (WP) and Jatiya Party (JP) may shatter the alliance's hope in constituencies in greater Rajshahi region.The grand alliance could expect easy win in most seats in the region, considered to be stronghold of BNP, as the party remained in disarray due to anti-crime and anti-corruption drives after 1/11, bad reputation of several BNP leaders for abetting militancy, Kansat tragedy and absence of a few vital leaders in the area.Electoral rivalry between four-party alliance partners BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami in a few constituencies could also act in favour of the grand alliance. In previous elections AL candidates in the region had lagged behind by huge margins with four-party alliance winners.With vote banks in the region, Jamaat-e-Islami won three seats of Chapainawa-bganj-3, Naogaon-4 and Natore-3 in 1991 and is likely to add to the strength of four-party alliance as in 2001 elections.Return of five BNP bigwigs to the area have also bolstered BNP's organisational base. The five leaders -- Fazlur Rahman Patal in Natore, Mizanur Rahman Minu in Rajshahi, Shahjahan Mia and Harunur Rashid in Chapainawabganj and M Shamsuzzoha Khan in Naogaon however, are still facing corruption charges.Grand alliance's hope in at least 10 seats out of 19 present constituencies in Rajshahi, Natore, Naogaon and Chapainawabganj districts largely depends on the BNP-Jamaat's waning popularity that was evident in August 4 local polls in Rajshahi where AL candidates AHM Khairuzzaman Liton and Abdul Gafur were elected mayors of Rajshahi City Corporation and Nawhata municipality.Among total 18 seats in greater Rajshahi during 1991 general elections, AL won five seats Naogaon-1, Naogaon-2, Rajshahi-4, Natore-2 and Natore-4 and JP won Rajshahi-3 (Bagmara-Mohonpur) while Jamaat captured three seats (mentioned above) and BNP won the nine other seats. But in 1996 elections, BNP won in all the seats except Natore-4 that was secured by former AL state minister Abdul Kuddus and again in 2001, the four-party alliance got 17 seats while former AL secretary general Abdul Jalil won Naogaon-4 seat.Following delimitations of constituencies, the number of seats in greater Rajshahi has increased to 19. Rajshahi mayor and Rajshahi regional grand alliance coordinator AHM Khairuzzaman Liton however, said, “Steps are underway… We are expecting to be free of all problems before the election. We hope to secure maximum seats.”But several AL men said many of AL grassroots would not expect Workers Party politburo member Fazle Hossain Badsha to be elected from Rajshahi-2 (city) constituency although Liton along with his wife is campaigning for him. Badsha's electoral rival is once again BNP's Mizanur Rahman Minu, also central organizing secretary of the party.AL nominated three millionaires -- Enamul Haque, Kazi Abdul Wadud Dara and Shahriar Alam for Rajshahi-4, 5 and 6 constituencies. But they are fresh in politics and have to struggle hard against rebel AL leaders who were deprived of nomination. Sardar Amjad Hossain who won Rajshahi-3 seat in 1991 and got 21 per cent votes in 1996 and 23 per cent votes in 2001 with JP tickets later joined AL. Deprived of nomination, he is contesting as an independent candidate against Enamul Haque.Rajshahi AL President Tajul Islam M Faruk and former AL lawmaker Raihanul Haque are covertly working against Dara and Shahriar respectively.The independent candidacy of district AL vice president M Emaj Uddin Pramanik poses threats for AL candidate SM Abdul Latif in Naogaon-4, paving way for BNP nominee AHM Shamsul Alam Pramanik.Grand alliance nominee Abu Talha of JP is not getting much help from local AL leaders in Natore-1 where Fazlur Rahman Patal is contesting from BNP.Jatiya Party vote in the region has also seen a gradual decline since 1991.AL candidate Abdul Wadud is now hopeful of winning in Jamaat stronghold Chapainawabganj-3 as BNP's Harunur Rashid and Jamaat's Latifur Rahman are in the race.AL candidates in two other seats in the district will see strong fight.In absence of former BNP minister barrister Aminul Haque (now staying abroad being jailed for life in a militancy abetting case), his brother Enamul Haque is contesting in Rajshahi-1. AL candidate Omar Faruk Chowdhury was lagging behind Aminul in 2001 by 21 percent votes while JP got 2.27 percent votes.AL nominee Akram Hossain Chowdhury in Naogaon-3 will also see little chance against BNP's deputy speaker Akhtar Hamid Siddiki as Akram was behind Siddiki by 10 per cent votes in 2001 while JP got 1.45 per cent votes. AL candidates will lock horns with BNP nominees in Naogaon-1, 2, 5 and 6 constituencies with chances for AL candidates Abdul Jalil (former AL secretary general) and Israfil Alam. Jalil will fight with Abdul Latif, a new face of BNP, while Israfil with Anwar Hossain Bulu, brother of former BNP minister turned LDP leader Alamgir Kabir. Ruhul Kuddus Talukhdar Dulu's wife Sabina Yasmin Chhobi is contesting in Natore-2 constituency where AL candidate Ahad Ali Sarker is a prospective candidate.

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