Local heavyweight leaders are preparing to make a stand against the retired army official, who is considered a key player in the 1/11 political changeover
The ruling Awami League is facing mounting levels of dissent from its alliance partners in Feni 3 constituency over the controversial nomination of Lt Gen (retd) Masud Uddin Chowdhury for the seat.
The retired army official - who is the brother-in-law of jailed BNP leader Khaleda Zia's brother, Said Eskander - is considered one of the key players in the 2007 political changeover, putting major political figures, including the incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in jail.
Masud initially bought a nomination paper for Feni 3 from the Awami League on November 10, but moved to JaPa only five days later.
Sources said the local heavyweight leaders of the Awami League, Jatiya Party (JaPa) and other members of the 14-party alliance are now protesting Masud’s candidacy under the banner “Nagorik Protirodh Committee” (Citizen Resistance Committee).
“Lt Gen (retd) Masud, along with his co-conspirators, tried to change the country’s political leadership by removing Sheikh Hasina and other veteran political figures after 1/11,” said Abul Bashar, a presidium member of Awami Jubo League’s central committee who received the Awami League ticket in the last two general elections.
“They were unsuccessful as we brought their forces down, but Masud and his cohorts have yet to face judgement for their actions during those two years.”
Bashar, who submitted his own nomination papers for Feni 3 as an independent candidate on Wednesday, said Masud had become a political leader overnight after buying his nomination papers from Jatiya Party.
“Now he is planning to become a candidate from the alliance - this does not bode well for the country’s politics,” he said.
However, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader at a press conference in Feni on Thursday said Masud had not yet been confirmed as the alliance candidate.
Speaking to this reporter, however, several local alliance leaders expressed their outrage that Lt Gen Masud had even been allowed to submit his nomination form under the alliance banner.
Many said that if he ultimately received the alliance ticket for the upcoming general election, the long-serving leaders and activists of the alliance partners would leave politics.
“Masud Chowdhury is responsible for the August 2007 protest (and) student leaders are still angry about the fact that he escaped justice,” said Rintu Anowar, the former publicity adviser to JaPa Chairman HM Ershad who resigned from the party only a week ago.
“I hope that the people in my area will boycott him in the upcoming election. We are all working together to create a strong resistance against him.”
Rintu, who received the JaPa nomination in the most recent election held in 2014, resigned from his post on November 22 after Ershad decided to appoint Masud Uddin as the party presidium member and his own security adviser.
Responding to the news of Masud’s potential nomination, Gias Uddin, a veteran lawyer in Feni, said the former army officer was known for having extorted huge sums of money from people during the period of the caretaker government in 2007-2008.
“Masud Uddin tortured and extorted money from various politicians, businessmen and people from other professions,” he said.
“He used to summon them to the DGFI [Directorate General of Forces Intelligence] office. He took crores of taka from people and smuggled it out of the country.”
When contacted, Masud Uddin declined to comment on his role in the 1/11 political changeover.
He said: “I came to politics with the blessings and faith of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. I will contest the upcoming polls as a candidate of the 14-party alliance with JaPa’s symbol. I hope the people of Feni 3 will elect me to parliament as a gift to the alliance.”
The 11th parliamentary election is scheduled to take place on December 30.