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Dhaka Tribune

Gazipur 3 constituency: BNP wants to take over AL stronghold

It will be very hard for the BNP to win this Awami League-dominated constituency

Update : 05 Nov 2018, 11:43 AM

The Awami League has been so dominant in national elections in Gazipur, ruling party candidates believe they only have to secure one of the district’s nominations to guarantee themselves a seat in parliament.

In Gazipur 3 constituency, however, nobody has found a way past Md Rahmat Ali, a six-time parliamentarian whose popularity has not been diminished by his absence from AL programs at the grassroots level due his old age.

But with the veteran lawmaker not expected to stand this time, a competitive atmosphere and internal conflicts over the nomination process have beset the ruling party.

“Gazipur 3 constituency has seen large scale development under Rahmat Ali,” Awami League’s Sreepur unit President Shamsul Alam Prodhan said.

“We are following Sheikh Hasina’s orders and will work for whomever the party picks, but it will not be surprising if the party chooses a different candidate this time for strategic reasons.”

The main opposition BNP, in contrast, has been out of office for 10 years and is desperate to win this time. 

As such the main battle in Gazipur 3 - which has 436,720 registered voters spread across Sreepur and Gazipur Sadar’s Bhawal Mirzapur, Pirujali and Bhawalgar - will likely be between the candidates of these two major parties.

Like father, like son?

Rahmat Ali’s son, Jamil Hasan Durjoy, is the joint general secretary of Awami League’s Gazipur unit and has been proactively campaigning in the area. 

“Durjoy has been highlighting the government’s development work during his campaigns,” Sreepur Upazila Awami Swechchhasebak League’s President Shafiqur Rahman said. “His activities have helped him become popular at the grassroots level.”

The upazila’s former Jubo League general secretary Rafiqul Islam Akand said there were reports in the media that Jamil Hasan Durjoy has been nominated by the party for the seat.

“The people at the grassroots level believe it like I do - he has proven his mettle through hard work,” he said. “He can win if he contests, and maintain the Awami League’s grip on this constituency.”

Sreepur Jubo League General Secretary Moniruzzaman Jaman said Durjoy, a lawyer by training, has helped party men accused in false cases during the BNP-led alliance government by representing them in court. 

“This has made him more popular among party activists,” he said.

Other contenders for the AL ticket in Gazipur 3 include Gazipur Awami League unit General Secretary Iqbal Hossain Sabuj and Sreepur Upazila Parishad’s incumbent Chairman Abdul Jalil. 

BNP in disarray

The party has won twice from the seat – once in 1979, and in the February 1996 election boycotted by major parties. BNP’s former standing committee member Tanvir Ahmed Siddique was the victor on both occasions.

Although the party lost the seat in 1991, at the second election held in 1996 and again in 2001, it had a strong organizational structure in the district.

All that changed, however, after Siddique’s son, Chowdhury Irad Ahmed Siddique, was expelled from the party in March 2009 for comments he made about BNP chief Khaleda Zia. 

It is unclear who the BNP will choose to contest from this constituency this time.

Candidates include the party’s central leader Prof Dr SM Rafiqul Islam Bachchu.

“I have been involved with the BNP and its student front for a long time (so) I am fit to compete against the Awami League candidate,” he said.

“The party has never picked a candidate from Sreepur, which has a large number of voters. The seat could have been recovered if BNP picked a candidate from this upazila.”

The former president of Chhatra Dal’s Sreepur unit, Moshiur Rahman Khan Titu, said Bachchu had a clean image in the locality and he did not get involved in party groupings. 

“He has also been helping people with treatment in Dhaka. Many leaders of the party say these things will have an impact in the upcoming election,” he said.

Bachchu will be up against a strong field including Jatiyatabadi Ulama Dal founder SM Ruhul Amin.

“I have increased the number of supporters over the last 14 years and so I hope the party will let me contest the upcoming election,” he said.

BNP’s Sreepur Upazila unit President Shahjahan Fakir is also one of leading contenders as he has a strong presence at the grassroots level. “The party will nominate the candidate after a grassroots survey so in that case, I am optimistic about being picked,” he said.

Other BNP aspirants in the constituency are Gazipur BNP’s Joint Secretary Sakhawat Hossain Sobuj, and Jatiyatabadi Ainjibi Forum’s International Affairs Secretary Barrister Fazlul Karim Mondol Jewel.

All of the prospective candidates have been maintaining regular communication with the party’s leaders and activists.

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