January 4, 2024
DHAKA – In a bid to make sure the next parliament looks like it has representatives from different political parties, the Awami league is asking its grassroots to support several aspirants from other parties.
The ruling party had decided to allow its leaders to run as independents in the January 7 national election so that the polls appear competitive and participatory and more people get out to vote. But now it is favouring aspirants from other parties in some constituencies, insiders say.
Some chosen aspirants from Trinamool BNP, Kalyan Party, and Jatiya Party and several former BNP leaders will get the free ride to parliament, said sources, adding that these individuals otherwise stand no chance of becoming MPs.
In six constituencies, leaders of AL’s allies are running with the AL symbol. They are pitted against the AL leaders running as independents. In most of such constituencies, the ruling party has asked its grassroots to support the person who has the boat symbol, not the so-called AL independent .
“The 14-party leaders competing with our symbol are our candidates, and our grassroots must work to ensure their win. This is our directive,” an AL central committee member involved in the process told The Daily Star, wishing anonymity.
Over the last few days, AL activists in Sylhet-5 constituency were asked to campaign for Moulana Husamuddin Chowdhury, president of a social organisation named Anjumane Al Islah, who is running as an independent.
Sylhet AL President Mashuk Uddin Ahmed was nominated by the AL to run for parliament with the party’s boat symbol. But he is not likely to get the grassroots support.
JP leader Shabbir Ahmed, who was vying for the constituency, yesterday quit the race, citing the “absence of a level playing field”.
In Sylhet-6, AL leader and former minister Nurul Islam Nahid got the party ticket while another AL leader named Sarwar Hossain is an independent candidate.
But local AL leaders have been on the campaign trail of Trinamool BNP Chairperson and former BNP vice-chairman Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury.
Most leaders of Golapganj upazila AL shared the stage with Shamsher at his campaign rally yesterday.
In Chakaria and Pekua upazilas of Coxs’ Bazar, AL men are favouring Major General (retd) Syed Mohammad Ibrahim, the expelled chairman of Kalyan Party, over AL leader and current MP Zafar Alam.
The AL nominee for the constituency, Salauddin Ahmed, lost his candidacy because of a defaulted loan. Salauddin himself has been seen working for Ibrahim.
At least three JP leaders known as Raushan loyalists — Rustum Ali Faraji of Pirojpur-3, Mashiur Rahaman Ranga of Rangpur-1, and Ziaul Haque Mridha of Brahmanbaria-2 — are enjoying the ruling party support in their campaign as independents.
There are no AL nominees in those constituencies.
In Bogura-4, ex-BNP leader Ziaul Haque Mollah seems to have the support of AL and Trinamool BNP men even though Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal leader and current MP Rezaul Karim Tansen has the boat symbol.
In Bogura-1, former BNP leader Mohammad Shokrana has the AL grassroots support, not the AL nominee and current MP Shahadara Mannan.
JP Senior Co-Chairman Anisul Islam Mahmud is competing for Chattogram-5. He has the local AL support even though two AL leaders are running as independents. The party earlier withdrew its candidate to help Anisul bag an easy win.
Similarly, JP leader Masud Uddin Chowdhury, the incumbent MP of Feni-3, has the AL support, not the so-called AL independent Haji Rahimullah.