Vol. 4 Num 218 Mon. January 05, 2004  

Intra-party rivalry intensifies over ticket for Kushtia-1 by-polls
3 each from BNP, AL in race for ticket

A race for party ticket for by-election in Kushtia-1 constituency has given rise to intra-party rivalries in political parties including ruling BNP and opposition Awami League.

Prospective candidates from the parties are meeting party workers here and lobbying with party high-ups, sources in the parties said.

The seat (Daulatpur constituency) fell vacant following the death of BNP lawmaker and former state minister for post and telecommunication Ahasanul Haq Mollah alias Pancha Mollah on December 12 last year.

By-election is to be held within 90 days but the Election Commission is yet to announce the election schedule.

Intending candidates from BNP, AL, Jatiya Party (Ershad), BJP and JSD (Inu) are frequently visiting the area and meeting party activists.

Insiders in BNP said three party leaders are in the race for party ticket, giving rise to intra-prty conflict.

They have declared their candidature and are trying to win over party workers. They are Daulatpur upazila BNP President Altaf Hossain, organising secretary Reza Ahmed Bachhu Mollah, son of late state minister Ahasanul Haq Molla and upazila BNP Joint Secretary advocate Ramzan Ali.

The insiders said party workers prefer a senior leader and a "strong" candidate to face AL in the polls.

The AL candidate lost four consecutive elections in the constituency to BNP candidates with small margins.

In the last parliamentary polls, AL candidate Afazudin lost to BNP's Ahasanul Haq with about 5000 votes though Haq got about 15,000 Jamaat-e-Islami and BJP votes. This time Afazuddin will put up a "very hard contest", BNP insiders and political analysts told this correspondent.

Meanwhile, the prospective BNP candidates have already started campaigning, often making accusations against rivals in the party.

On the other hand, BJP central vice-president M Korban Ali has launched a campaign to become a 'coalition candidate'. BJP is a component of the ruling four-party alliance.

This has created differing opinions among leaders and workers of the alliance partners in the area.

Korban Ali recently accused Reza Ahmed Bachhu Mollah of being involved in criminal activities.

"I will not campaign for any terrorist or criminal even if the BNP chairperson nominates him", he said.

The joint forces during the Operation Clean Heart caught Reza Ahmed twice on charge of smuggling but released him later, police said. He was also an accused in Kazi Aref Ahmed murder case but his name was later dropped after BNP came to power.

Afazuddin, Sorwar Hossain Badsha and Bayezid Hossain Akkas are possible candidates from Awami League.

Bayezid, an advocate in his 40s, say AL is losing the polls because of Afazuddin. Afazuddin, 65, is a senior AL leader.

Sorwar Hossain, a former vice-president of Rajshahi University Central Students Union, has also gained a political clout.

Principle Rezaul Haq of JSD (Inu) and Dr Fazlul Haq of JP (Ershad) are also seeking party tickets.

No Jamaat leader has so far declared his candidature. Party sources said they may remain loyal to BNP.

Businessman and columnist Musa Kamal has declared his candidature as an independent candidate.