Residents of Dhaka 4 constituency, where ruling Awami League withdrew its nominee to favour Jatiya Party in line with a political understanding, are expecting a tough contest in Sunday’s elections as a section of local AL leaders are supporting an independent candidate in defiance of the party’s decision.
Securing the south Dhaka seat will not be easy for JaPa aspirant Syed Abu Hossain Babla, as his main rival, expelled city AL leader Awlad Hossain, has strong influence among local party supporters.
Awlad Hossain, a former personal secretary to AL chief Sheikh Hasina, decided to contest the 10th parliamentary polls as an independent after incumbent lawmaker Sanjida Khanam withdrew her candidacy following a party directive.
Babla, a former lawmaker and JaPa presidium member, is contesting with the “plough”, while Awlad got “elephant” as his symbol.
Speaking to party activists and voters in the constituency, it was found that despite Sanjida’s supporters backing Babla, most local AL leaders were working for Awlad behind the scenes.
Raja Mia, a Jubo League leader of Shampur union, told the Dhaka Tribune that a good number of local AL leaders and activists were supporting Awlad.
“Although you do not see them campaigning for Awlad Hossain because of the party’s decision, they will do their duty on election day,” Raja said.
Awlad Hossain told the Dhaka Tribune that the general people were with him, and he would win the race.
On December 18, AL cancelled Awlad’s membership and relieved him of all party posts. The party also directed its supporters to refrain from cooperating with Awlad, who was the joint general secretary of AL’s Dhaka city unit.
On the other hand, Sajjad Hossain, a local Chattra League leader, said pro-Sanjida leaders and activists were supporting Babla.
Abdul Gafur, a tea stall owner in Karimullah Bagh, anticipated a close contest between the two candidates.
He said Babla, who was an MP during HM Ershad’s regime in the 1980’s, had made some contributions, including taking the initiative to supply piped gas to the area.
“So, Babla will have some advantage,” Gafur said.
Babla himself told the Dhaka Tribune that except a few expelled local leaders, most AL activists were supporting him.
“The handful of expelled AL leaders who are working against me will not matter, and I am hopeful of winning,” he said.
The constituency encompasses Dhaka South City Corporation wards 47, 51, 52, 53 and 54 and Shampur union.
There are a total of 2 28,517 voters, a good number of whom are small traders. Of the area’s manifold problems, locals deem waterlogging as the worst.
Campaign publicity in the area indicate that the election will likely be closely fought. Both candidates have almost the same number of posters, banners and festoons covering the walls or hanging over roads across the constituency.
However, the number of electioneering offices in the area are relatively small. Locals said only a small number of supporters were seen canvassing for either candidate, and very few campaign processions were held.
Mainul Islam, who sells tea in Dania, said during past elections, huge crowds used to gather around his stall. But this time, there were very few customers.