Unrest and acts of vandalism was reported at the party chairman’s office in Banani on November 29
HM Ershad-led Jatiya Party served as the main opposition in the 10th national parliament for five years. The party has expressed its interest in contesting the upcoming 11th general election with the ruling Awami League.
As part of this move, Jatiya Party candidates submitted nomination forms in 220 constituencies. However, trouble is brewing inside the organization.
There are complaints that Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad and Secretary General Ruhul Amin Howlader have taken money from the aspirants with the promise of nominating them in their chosen constituencies, but they are yet to follow through with their promise.
Acts of vandalism
On November 29, sources reported unrest and acts of vandalism at the party chairman’s office in Banani. Eyewitnesses said several demonstrations were also held at the office premises.
The chairman’s Press Secretary and also the party’s Presidium Member Sunil Shuvo Roy said: “I was there, and no such incident took place at the office. No police were deployed here.”
However, sources inside the Jatiya Party told a different story. According to them, Chairman HM Ershad and Secretary General Ruhul Amin had taken huge sums of money from aspirants, with promises to nominate them.
Incumbent Nilphamari 4 lawmaker Shawkat Chowdhury, who was not nominated for the upcoming election, shouted in front of the office: “Tell sir [HM Ershad] to return my money and see me in Saidpur.
“If he does not comply, even the police will not be able to save him. I will see this through. I paid him [Ershad] Tk60 lakh. I paid him whenever he asked me for money. I want my money back.”
However, Shawkat Chowdhury denied making the abovementioned comments on Thursday night, saying: “I did not hurl such allegations. A certain group is using my name to spread falsehood.”
Similarly, another Jatiya Party leader Kazi Mamunur Rashid had made allegations of nomination irregularities, but later denied making any such statements.
He said: “I have been with Jatiya Party for over ten years. The party chairman has visited my area and introduced me as the candidate. But, a certain quarter is conspiring to damage my political career.
“I am contesting under Jatiya party candidate, and I am not an alliance candidate. I will follow the party’s directive to the letter.”
Meanwhile, HM Ershad’s younger brother and Jatiya Party Co-Chairman GM Quader said: “I was not a part of the nomination process. I do not know who the chairman has nominated and who he has left out.
“These matters are very sensitive, and I cannot comment on them.”
A Jatiya Party leader, preferring to be anonymous, said: “An untoward incident took place at the party chairman’s office around 1pm on Thursday [November 29]. Later, police were deployed there till the evening.”
Another Jatiya Party leader, who was present at that office on November 29, said: “Followers of party leader Shafiqul Islam Sentu hurled bottles at the office, as he was not nominated. Sentu also announced that he will resign.”
Commenting on the matter, Dhaka Metropolitan North unit President Foysal Chisty said: “Why would Sentu resign? We are making an effort to fulfill demands made by him.”
Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad and Secretary General Ruhul Amin Howlader could not be reached for comments on the matter despite repeated attempts.
Firmly denying the allegations of nomination irregularities, party leader Sunil Shuvo Roy said: “The office was closed on Thursday evening [November 29], which is the usual time. There was no incident. The allegations of irregularities and extortion were a blatant lie.
“Our candidates have submitted nominations 220 constituencies, and we will finalize the candidates after necessary scrutiny and discussing seat allocation with the Awami League.”
A source from the Jatiya Party said the Secretary General Ruhul Amin Howlader is presently avoiding the nomination seekers. The aspirants cannot find him neither at his home nor at his office for days.