BNP in trouble with Jamaat over city polls

Mohammad Al Amin

10 July, 2018 12:00 AM printer

BNP is now under pressure as its key ally Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami is all set to contest the Sylhet city corporation elections separately.

In the situation, possibility of Jamaat support for BNP mayoral candidate in the Sylhet city polls is very slim, party insiders said.

BNP is also facing internal conflict in Rajshahi, Sylhet and Barishal cities  while its rebel candidate Badruzzaman Selim is contesting the mayoral election as an independent candidate in Sylhet city, the sources added.

The elections to Rajshahi, Sylhet and Barishal city corporations will be held on July 30. The deadline for withdrawal of candidature was July 9.

BNP has nominated Ariful Haque Chowdhury for Sylhet, Majibar Rahman Sarwar for Barishal and Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul for Rajshahi city polls as mayoral candidates.

Jamaat candidate Ehsanul Mahbub Jubayer, Ameer of Sylhet city unit of Jamaat, is vying for the mayoral seat as an independent candidate in Sylhet.

Talking to the daily sun, Jamaat Nayeb-e-Ameer Mia Ghulam Parwar on Monday said, “Our party (Jamaat) candidate will contest the Sylhet city corporation polls for mayoral post.”

He said Jamaat has extended support to the 20-party alliance mayoral candidates in Rajshahi and Barishal city polls.

“We’ve formed an alliance with BNP for national election and we’ve left most of the city polls for BNP. But we want to contest at least one city election,” Parwar said.

On July 4, after a meeting of the 20-party alliance, BNP Standing Committee Member Nazrul Islam Khan announced that the coalition will contest the upcoming elections to Rajshahi, Barishal and Sylhet city corporations with single candidate.

“We’ll work jointly for the polls,” he added.

BNP sources said the party senior leaders on Monday night sat in an urgent meeting over candidacy of Sylhet mayoral polls and they took decision that they will try to convince the Jamaat candidate to withdraw from the city elections.

“Though time is already over to withdraw candidacy, unofficially anyone can step aside from the election race anytime. We’ll continue to convince Jamaat to stop their race in the Sylhet city polls,” a BNP top leader said.

Jamaat insiders said now they want to maintain a distant relationship with BNP as they want to pick up a real bargain with the party over various issues, including sharing of seats in the next parliamentary polls.

The Jamaat leaders are telling that they will extend support to BNP candidates in Barishal and Rajshahi city polls but the party insiders said they, in fact, will not work for the BNP candidates in the two cities.

Mentioning that Khilafat Majlish candidates finally have withdrawn their mayoral candidates for Barishal and Sylhet city polls, its secretary general Ahmad Abdul Quader said they have extended support to the 20-party nominated candidates for  Barishal, Rajshahi and Sylhet city polls.

Asked about Jmaaat’s mayoral candidate for Sylhet city polls, he said, “It’s a matter between BNP and Jamaat. We can’t make any comment in this regard.”

Meanwhile, the BNP is facing serious internal conflict over the three city corporation elections as different factions of the party leaders and activists are against the party-nominated candidates for the polls and this may badly affect the party’s election results, sources at the BNP Rajshahi, Barishal and Sylhet city units said.

The party’s rebel mayoral candidate, Badruzzaman Selim, also the party’s city unit general secretary, has vowed to remain in the race until the last moment of the Sylhet city polls.

At a press conference on Sunday, Selim claimed that five out of six probable mayoral aspirants, who had been interviewed by the party’s top leaders, had requested the interviewers not to nominate Ariful Haque Chowdhury.

“They have also extended their support to me,” he added.

Alliance sources said it is almost impossible for the BNP-nominated mayoral candidates to win the Sylhet, Barishal and Rajshahi city polls without the support of the allies, particularly Jamaat, as the Islamist party has some supporters in the cities.

BNP insiders said party leaders and activists of local units are unhappy with the party’s central leaders over choosing Ariful Haque Chowdhury for Sylhet and Mujibur Rahman Sarwar for Barishal as mayoral candidates, while the party men wanted to bring in fresh blood having innovative ideas and fresh approaches for the two cities.