Nomination-aspirants of both parties are actively campaigning to woo voters
A number of Awami League leaders are seeking the party’s nomination to contest the next election in Panchagarh 2 constituency, resulting in intense disagreements.
Aspirants from the ruling party, including the incumbent MP Advocate Nurul Islam Sujon, are busy wooing voters via public relations campaigns while also lobbying their party high-ups.
The main opposition BNP must also find a way to resolve a dispute with its alliance partner, the Jatiya Ganatantrik Party, in order to not split the vote in Panchagarh 2 constituency, which has 334,445 registered voters across Boda and Debiganj upazilas.
Jatiya Ganatantrik has a strong prospective candidate in the form of its central committee vice-president Tasmia Prodhan Jui, so BNP must make a careful decision about who to nominate as the chances of their candidates winning in the parliamentary polls are already quite slim.
At a glance: Panchagarh 2
While either the Awami League or BNP have won Panchagarh 2 at each of the past four elections, the seat was once known as a communist stronghold.
In 1986, the Bangladesh Communist Party (CPB) general secretary Comrade Mohammad Farhad was elected lawmaker for this seat, while CPB candidate Md Mojahar Hossain won here under the boat symbol in 1991.
Mojahar then joined BNP in 1993, and won two consecutive terms as Panchagarh 2 lawmaker in 1996 and 2001.
District Awami League president Advocate Nurul Islam Sujon then won the seat for the boat symbol in 2008 and held it in 2014.
Awami League’s preparation
A significant number of ruling party leaders and activists told the Dhaka Tribune that the incumbent MP might be nominated to defend his seat in the upcoming election due to his successful track record in Panchagarh 2 constituency.
During his tenure, Nurul has enjoyed the support of both his party activists and the public and he remains one of the most influential politicians in the region.
However, several party activists, on condition of anonymity, said the “immoral and undemocratic activities” of a few leaders had tarnished the image of the district Awami League and its local MP.
Awami League, associated party aspirant-candidates
This reported misbehaviour has reportedly led to a fierce internal dispute among members of the local Awami League unit.
“I believe in clean and public-oriented politics (and) my tenure as a lawmaker has improved the image of Awami league and increased my popularity,” lawmaker Nurul Islam Sujon said.
“Awami League is a large party, so it is normal for multiple aspirants to seek the nomination for one constituency. Awami League President Sheikh Hasina will make a final decision regarding nominations, with feedback from the grassroots.
Those aspirants include the former chairman of Debiganj upazila parishad and veteran AL leader, Md Abdul Malek Chisty, who has sought his party’s nomination for the past few elections. He is engaged in campaigning, mass rallies, and public relations - along with lobbying with the party high-ups.
Bangladesh Muktijuddho Projonmo League central committee Vice-President Brig Gen (retd) Dr Md Shahjahan Mondol announced his own bid to secure the AL nomination at a recent rally that showcased hundreds of motorcycles, cars, microbuses, and pickups in Boda and Debiganj upazila.
He frequently visits these upazilas to engage in public relations campaigns, meetings, and rallies.
“The leaders and activists of Awami League and its associate organizations want to see a change of leadership in this constituency,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
“I believe if a survey is conducted, I will be favoured by around 80% of the locals.”
Another contender is Bangladesh JSD Central Organizing Secretary Professor Emran AL Amin.
BNP’s electoral activities
Although a number of BNP candidates are making a serious effort to secure the nomination in Panchagarh 2, the party has lost two strong contenders following the deaths of district BNP president and four-time lawmaker Mojahar Hossain, and Jatiya Ganatantrik Party president Shafiul Alam.
BNP Central Executive Committee member Farhad Hossain is presently leading the race among the prospective candidates, and claims to have secured the verbal confirmation from BNP Vice-Chairman Tarique Rahman, Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul, and Barrister Md Jamiruddin Sarkar.
BNP, associated party nomination-aspirants
“As per their instructions, I am campaigning in my constituency and organizing the local unit, so that we can recover this constituency,” Farhad said. “However, our leader Khaleda Zia is currently in jail (so) it is not yet certain whether our party will participate in the 11th general election.”
Former supporters of the late Mojahar and some other BNP leaders have taken a stand against Farhad due to long-standing disputes. They are backing Mojahar’s son, Mahmud Hossain, who has confirmed his intention to seek BNP’s nomination.
“I want to finish my father’s work in this constituency, and I am optimistic that BNP will nominate me,” he said. “Leaders and activists from all tiers of the party have promised me their full support.”
Ex-president of Debiganj upazila BNP and ex-chairman of Chengtihazradanga Union Md Hamidur Rahman is also planning to contest the polls.
There are rumours that Jamaat leader and Boda upazila parishad chairman Safiullah Sufi and local Jatiya Party convener Md Lutfor Rahman are also planning to contest the 11th parliamentary election.