The BNP has won the seat in every national election between 1991 and 2008
Actors Rokeya Prachy and Shomi Kaiser are among a dozen nomination seekers from the ruling Awami League in Feni 3 constituency ahead of the 11th parliamentary election.
They are regularly seen participating in various programs and trying to impress voters in the locality, which is comprised of Daganbhuiyan and Sonagazi upazilas.
“I have been working at the grassroots level following Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s order,” said Prachy, the Mohila Awami League’s central cultural affairs secretary who earned her breakthrough with the 1997 film, Dukhai.
“I hope she will nominate me and give me a chance to serve the people.”
If either screen star is to win the nomination they will need to outperform Rahim Ullah, the renegade former expatriate Awami League leader won the seat in 2014 when the BNP-led alliance boycotted the polls.
That most recent national election in Feni 3 was the first to be won by any party other than BNP since 1986.
Despite its proud track record in the seat, BNP is still unclear who will represent it at the upcoming polls, which are expected to be held in December.
The accidental MP
Rahim, the former president of Awami League’s Jeddah unit, won the 2014 polls as an independent candidate.
The ruling party initially picked Jubo League’s Presidium Member Abul Bashar, but later gave up the seat for Rintu Anowar of its coalition member, the Jatiya Party.
The decision did not sit well with the ruling party’s activists, who sided with Rahim and swept him into power.
Since the election, Rahim has been declared a persona non-grata or an unwelcome person in the locality by the ruling party’s local unit, with both sides accusing each other of attacking opponents and filing false cases against rivals.
12 candidates in AL
Rahim has already declared his intention to defend his seat and will again face Bashar, who is seeking the Awami League nomination for a third time.
“I lost the 2008 election by a small margin and withdrew my nomination at the request of my party chief in 2014,” Bashar said. “This time, I am confident that I will win the election if I get nomination.”
Other candidates are the party’s former central leader Jahir Uddin Mahmud Lipton, its district unit president and Feni Sadar upazila chairman Abdur Rahman, its Feni unit vice-president Akram Hossain Humayun, and its Sonagazi upazila parishad chairman ZM Kamrul Anam.
Also in contention are Daganbhuiyan upazila chairman and Jubo League’s Feni unit chief Didarul Kabir, Awami League leader Didarul Alam, and two candidates with overseas interests: the party’s Japan unit president Shamsul Alam Bhuttu, and its US unit joint secretary and NRB Bank chairman, Nizam Chowdhury.
Sources close to these nomination seekers say they have ramped up lobbying at the party’s central level.
The BNP is yet to decide on its candidate for the Feni 3 constituency, since a large section of the party’s activists are accused in many cases and have been on the run during the past few years, while those who remain in the locality are largely inactive.
According to the BNP Feni unit general secretary, Zia Uddin Mister, the most likely choice is the party’s vice-chairman, Abdul Awal Mintoo.
Mister said: “If he does not want to contest election from here, then his younger brother and Daganbhuiyan Upazila’s BNP unit chief Akbar Hossain could be nominated,”
Apart from them, BNP leader and retired army officer Nasir Uddin Ahmed, US expatriate leader Solaiman Bhuiyan and the party’s national executive committee member, Sahana Akter, will reportedly seek the nomination from the party.
Also reportedly preparing for polls in Feni 3 are Jamaat-e-Islami leader Maqbool Ahmad, retired army officer Masud Uddin Chowdhury, and Jatiya Party’s Rintu Anowar, who also contested the last election won by Rahim.